Zvi Ammar, the head of Marseille's Israelite Consistory, told the AFP
, "Life is more sacred than anything else. We are now forced to hide a little bit.”
Ammar added that even contemplating the move made him "sick to his stomach." The request to refrain from wearing skullcaps comes one day after
a 15-year-old Kurdish teen wielding a machete attacked a 35-year-old Marseille teacher,
Benjamin Amsellem luckily ended up with only an injured shoulder and hand. Amsellem was wearing a skullcap. The would-be assassin claimed he was acting in the name of ISIS.
"Unfortunately for us, we are targeted. As soon as we are identified as Jewish we can be assaulted and even risk death," Ammar told the AFP. He said he felt sad that in 2016, Jews were finding themselves in such a horrible position in such a great democracy such as France.
"But faced with an exceptional situation, we have to take exceptional measures. It causes me such pain to come to this conclusion but I do not want anyone to die in Marseille because they had a kippah on their head."
The attack was the third on Jews in Marseille in recent months. The French city has the second largest Jewish population in France, behind Paris. In October, three Jewish people were assaulted, one with a knife by an apparently drunken assailant, reports Arutz Sheva.
Then in November, another school teacher was assaulted and stabbed by a group of terrorist youths who were shouting anti-Semitic obscenities, and expressing their allegiance to ISIS.
It may seem like such a small request; asking Jewish men to not wear their skullcaps when outdoors, but to some people, that request could be likened to asking Muslim women to not cover their faces when in public. What's the difference?
Mr. Ammar said he knew his comments would not sit well with many in the Jewish community and would anger many, telling the media he was asking Jews to go without the skullcaps "until better days." One man who was not pleased with Ammar's comments was France's chief rabbi.
Chief Rabbi, Haim Korsia, rejected the idea, telling the AFP, "We should not give an inch. We should continue wearing the kippa." He pointed out that Jews and the skullcap were not responsible for the violence.
is reporting the Jewish community in France numbers between 500,000 and 600,000, and is the largest in Europe. Israel's Immigration Ministry says that approximately 8,000 French Jews have emigrated to Israel in the last year alone.