The European Coalition for Israel has launched an international “Wear-A-Kippah” campaign in order to raise awareness about the current threat facing the Jewish communities in Europe, the ECI said.
“The best way to honour the victims of the Holocaust this coming week is to make sure that Jews can live in safety and security in Europe today, knowing that they have the support of their fellow citizens,” according to a statement on the ECI’s website.
It noted that last week, a 15-year-old student in Marseille stabbed a Jewish teacher. In the aftermath of the attack, some Jewish leaders have suggested that Jews should avoid wearing their kippahs (a Jewish skullcap, also known as a yarmulke) in order to prevent any further attacks.
“We cannot accept that Jewish communities in France and elsewhere in Europe have to live in fear 71 years after the liberation of Auschwitz,” said ECI Founding Director Tomas Sandell, who expressed his concern over the resurgence of anti-Semitism in Europe.
“We will follow the example of the late King of Denmark, Christian X, who during the time of the Nazi-occupation of Denmark, responded to the threats that Jews should wear a Yellow star by saying, ‘If the Jews have to wear a yellow star we will all wear it.'”
“In solidarity with the Jewish communities in Europe we will wear a Kippah.”
“As long as Jews are living in fear for wearing their religious symbols in Europe we are obliged to stand up in solidarity with them,” Sandell said.
The campaign started on January 25, it will cover the International Holocaust Remembrance Day on January 27 and come to a close on January 31.
The campaign encourages men to wear a kippah and post their photo on social media to raise awareness. Women are encouraged to express their support in other ways, for example, by wearing a Jewish symbol or displaying the message #WearAKippah.
Local politicians and ministers will be asked to accept the challenge to wear a kippah and have their pictures taken in order to send a strong message to their communities. People who do not own a kippah can buy one at the local synagogue or order one over the internet.
The ECI Israel has been marking the Holocaust Remembrance day since its inception in 2005 when the organisation initiated and hosted the first memorial event in the European Parliament in Brussels. In 2015, ECI co-hosted a memorial concert in the Tempel synagogue in Krakow, Poland to mark the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz.
Regardless of all the efforts in the past, the Holocaust Remembrance day has often passed without much publicity, ECI said.
By engaging a wider audience and giving them a way to express their concerns ECI hopes to raise awareness of the alarming situation for Jews in Europe today where two thirds of all Jews in France are considering leaving Europe in fear for their safety, according to a report from the EU Fundamental Rights Agency in November 2013, ECI said.
“Europe would no longer be Europe if the Jewish communities were forced to leave,” says Sandell. This is a concern ECI shares with the European Commission, that has appointed a special envoy to combat anti-Semitism.
The current President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz has pledged to make the safety of Jews in Europe his number one priority during his presidency. Schulz will on January 27 host the EU Holocaust Remembrance day event at the European Parliament in Brussels.
(Photo: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)