My wife and I recently got into a conversation with a man sitting next to us in the lounge of the Barcelona Hilton. It turns out that he runs kosher tour groups from France to the rest of Europe, and was checking out the Hilton because it was across the street from the Barcelona Chabad House, a source for prayer quorums and kosher food.
It turns out that the man in question was Orthodox, but he was not wearing a kippah or other head covering. Instead, he wore sunglasses raised on his head as he sipped his Coke, an alternative he said was allowed by religious law (I have no idea whether that’s correct).
He explained that he never wears a kippah in any European city, that it’s dangerous for a Jew to do so. He had never been to the U.S., and he was amazed when we told him that Orthodox Jews in the U.S. walk around with kippahs all the time, and aren’t in any particular danger.
Of course, we were appalled that the situation in Europe has gotten to be such that Jews are afraid to walk around with identifiable Jewish garb on. But this led me to wonder why authorities in European cities aren’t sending out undercover cops disguised as Orthodox Jews to catch the perpetrators. A few dozen arrests and convictions of those who are attacking Jews would surely limit the practice quickly.
I don’t know the answer to that question, but coincidentally a reader in a VC thread on another topic provided a link to a story showing that Amsterdam is
about to using decoys in exactly the way I suggested, after the city was (finally) scandalized by video evidence of the guantlet religious Jews face. It’s long past time that the police departments of Paris, London, Barcelona, and so on do the same.
UPDATE: My dad reminds me that when he attended synagogue in Barcelona, he left the synagogue wearing his kippah. Several men came chasing after him, yelling in Spanish. It turns out they were warning him to take off his kippah!