Tag Archives: Israeli

Israeli barber creates ‘magic’ skull cap to protect Jews from attacks

An Israeli barber has fashioned what he calls “magic” yarmulkes out of hair, designed to allow religious Jews to cover their heads without attracting unwanted attention from anti-Semites.

Shalom Koresh said his skullcap, known as a yarmulke in Yiddish and a kippa in Hebrew, was inspired by rising anti-Semitism in Europe and elsewhere. He said he has seen particular interest from buyers in France and Belgium.

“This skullcap is washable, you can brush it, you can dye it,” Koresh said in his salon in central Israel. “It was created so people could feel comfortable going to places where they are afraid to go, or places where they can’t wear it, and feel secure.”

France has seen a spike in anti-Semitic attacks in recent years. The killing of four French Jews in a hostage standoff at a Paris kosher market earlier this month has deepened fears among European Jews.

Officials in Israel are expecting – and encouraging – a new influx of Jewish immigrants following the Paris standoff. Since the attacks, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has encouraged European Jews to move to the Jewish state.

Many Jews in Europe, especially France, say they feel unsafe walking around wearing the symbols of their faith. A 2013 European Union report found that one in five European Jews avoid wearing kippas or other Jewish symbols for fear of being harassed or attacked. The skullcap could also serve Jews traveling to the Middle East, where they encounter hostility in many Arab countries.

Koresh’s hairy skullcap, which he has dubbed the “Magic Kippa,” comes in an array of shades and colors. He sells them online, starting at 49 euros (56 dollars) for synthetic hair and 79 euros (91 dollars) for ones made of natural hair. The skullcap can be fastened onto the wearer’s real hair with hidden clips.

“You don’t feel a thing. It feels like it is part of your hair. There isn’t such a difference between this and a regular kippa. It feels the same,” said Maor Hania, who modelled a dark brown skullcap at Koresh’s salon.

Devout Jewish men traditionally wear skullcaps as a sign of respect and reverence for God. Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, who teaches at a prominent Jerusalem yeshiva, said that Jewish skullcaps must be visible and not hidden, but added that under certain unforeseeable circumstances, such as a risk of attacks, the “Magic Kippa” may be valid.

“Our sages said that, for example, when we are in danger, then it’s possible (to hide it),” he said, adding that the wearer should consult his own rabbi for guidance.

The hairy kippa received mixed reactions among skullcap-wearing men in Jerusalem. Some said they felt ill at ease with the idea of hiding their identity abroad, but others welcomed the protection.

“It’s very dangerous in France right now and it’s dangerous for a person to walk outside with a kippa,” said Richard Altabe, who wore a regular black kippa atop his silver hair. “So if this is how they can maintain their religious commitment, why not?”

Annual audit documents incidents of anti-Semitism in Wisconsin

Last summer, half a dozen signs suddenly appeared in Algoma denouncing Jewish people — going so far as to urge locals to “Kill the Jews, keep Algoma clean.”

Police and the FBI investigated the incident as a hate crime, but the perpetrators were never found. 

The incident also was investigated by the Milwaukee-based Jewish Community Relations Council and documented in JCRC’s 2013 Audit of Anti-Semitic Incidents. Released earlier this month, the report will be turned over to the Anti-Defamation League and become part of its national audit.

JCRC director Elana Kahn-Oren said the report represents only the tip of the problem, since the vast majority of anti-Semitic incidents go unreported. “Many times when I talk to someone about the audit, they tell me about an incident,” she said. “So this list represents only a sliver of the story.”

Other documented instances of anti-Semitism in Wisconsin last year included:

• High school students invoked the stereotype of Jewish people as obsessed with money by throwing coins at Jewish students.

• A Wisconsin State Fair vendor said to a Jewish fairgoer that she sold a diamond but didn’t get a high price because, “Jews are cheap.” She added: “And you know, they smell.” 

• A landlord told a tenant that her drain clogged because, “All that Jewish hair is clogging it. You people have such thick hair.” 

• On hearing that a particular woman was Jewish, a Racine woman said, “Oh, you’re the people who killed my Lord.”

• A 12-year-old child in a suburban swim club called another child a “dirty Jew.” 

• Comments on the Facebook page of a local organization included repeated references to Jewish power and declarations of Jewish and Israeli control over the U.S. government. Other comments called for deporting “all elected officials with dual U.S./Israeli citizenship or ties to Zionism”; “Zionist assholes”; and “Israel has all the money … F___ing crooks.”

Kahn-Oren said that Wisconsin and other places that are not home to a large Jewish population generally have a higher proportion of anti-Semitism. 

“When someone knows someone of another faith, it (positively) affects their thought and attitude toward that faith group,” she said.

Kahn-Oren said that anti-Semitism based on theological differences is fading, but a disturbing new trend of hatred toward Jews is emerging on the political left. It’s based on anti-Zionism, she said.

“The Jewish community is the most consistently progressive faith group, and it’s hard to have those that we’ve stood in partnership with all these years say things that are painful and that feel so deeply threatening,” Kahn-Oren said. “Jews are themselves critical of Israel, but there’s a line crossed when people are questioning the very existence of a Jewish state.”

Despite occasional outbursts of hatred toward Jews, from a historical perspective conditions are favorable for Jewish adults in America today, Kahn-Oren said. Jewish children, however, often have a tough time.

“Jews have historically learned how to navigate society,” she said. “But kids don’t know what hate is. Kids in school don’t know how to navigate hate. High school can be brutal.” 

The JCRC has found that anti-Semites are usually bigoted toward Muslims, LGBT people and other minorities, as well.

“It’s all the same thing,” Kahn-Oren said. “It’s all the same fight.”