- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Some Jewish leaders are asking French Jews to leave their skullcaps at home after a string of violent anti-Semitic attacks in recent months.

Parents in the southern city of Marseille, where a Jewish teacher was attacked by a Kurdish teen “in the name of Allah” on Monday, have begun urging their sons to wear a baseball cap instead of the traditional Jewish head covering, Agence France-Presse reported.

Jewish men often wear a skullcap, known in Hebrew as a kippah or in Yiddish as a yarmulke, as an outward sign of their religion.

The head of Marseille’s Israelite Consistory on Tuesday called on Jewish men and boys to stop wearing the kippah “until better better days,” saying the “exceptional measure” was necessary to protect Jewish lives.

“Life is more sacred than anything else. We are now forced to hide a little bit,” Zvi Ammar told AFP.

He admitted that even contemplating the move made him “sick to his stomach.”

However, France’s chief rabbi, Haim Korsia, urged Jews to keep covering their heads, according to the BBC.

“We should not give in to anything, we will continue to wear the kippah,” he said, stressing that Jews and the skullcap were not responsible for the violence.

On Wednesday, government spokesman Stephane Le Foll declined to voice an opinion, saying it was a “debate that originated within the Jewish community,” AFP reported.

He stressed however that the state’s role is to “provide protection and to denounce anti-Semitic acts.”

Monday’s attack was the third on Jews in recent months in Marseille, which boasts the third-largest urban population of Jews in Europe after Paris and London.

In October, three Jews were attacked in the city, one with a knife near a synagogue, according to AFP. In November, a teacher at a Jewish school in Marseille was stabbed by three people who shouted anti-Semitic insults at him.

Anti-Semitic acts in France have soared in recent years, increasing by 84 percent in the period between January 2015 and May 2015 compared to a year earlier, according to official statistics.

As a result, emigration from France to Israel has spiked, with a record 7,900 people leaving last year.

Monday’s attack came just says after France marked a year since the attacks that left 12 people dead at the offices of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and four at a Jewish supermarket.

• Kellan Howell can be reached at khowell@washingtontimes.com.

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