Jonathan Levy
​you shall love your neighbour as yourself" (Leviticus 19:18)

Are you ‘taking the kapple’?

Premier League Players 'Taking the Kapple'

Alright, I’ll admit it. The idea was not mine. I first saw this reported in early 2019. German newspaper ‘Bild’ published a cut-out kippah (skullcap) on its front page, urging readers to show their solidarity with the country’s Jewish community in the face of rising antisemitism. I was really taken aback. Wow! What an incredible story.

The support we have received from Germany and its early rejection of those protesting and celebrating October 7th, has really given me faith in humanity. There are countries that are getting this right (tut tut Britain). This kippah cut-out reminds me of the myth of the King of Denmark during WW2 wearing a yellow star in solidarity with the Jews. (In fact Jews never wore yellow stars in Denmark).

We often hear the term zero tolerance for antisemitism  spouted by politicians around the globe, when in fact tolerance for antisemitism is at a new high in the West. I often wonder, what zero tolerance looks like. How militant should society get against the antisemites in its midst?

As a Jew, this intractable problem, occupies me day and night. Why still? How can I bring up kids in a world like this? When will this ever end? What can I do to stop it? The powerlessness in realizing that “Jews cannot fight antisemitism alone. The victim cannot cure the crime. The hated cannot cure the hate…The only people who can successfully combat antisemitism are those active in the cultures that harbor it.” (Rabbi Sacks Future Tense, Chapter 5, pp. 108-109) leaves me despairing. 

So that’s what brought me to the idea of ‘taking the kapple’. [Actually, it was an idea my Dad mentioned at the Shabbat table last week in passing, but I may have taken it a little bit further.] What if we woke up Sunday morning and the Sunday papers have included a printed kapple for people to print off? What if we lived in a society, where the quiet majority (as we saw in the public Eurovision vote) showed the Jewish community what they really felt, with actions. ‘Taking the kapple’ is the perfect solution to show support for a Jewish community feeling so vulnerable, as it cannot be claimed to be political as it is a religious symbol of Jewishness. Muslims, Christians, should all be able to stand with Jews against antisemitism by taking the kapple.

The fact that it probably won’t happen, reinforces two ideas which sadly have proven themselves to be true in recent months. 1) Jews don’t count (I tweeted this to David Baddiel but didn’t elicit a reaction) 2) The reality is that things happen in Israel and Jews get attacked outside of Israel and there is no preventing that. Proving that anti-Zionism is antisemitism. Our enemies sometimes remind us, even if we don’t want reminding, that being Jewish inextricably means being Zionist.

My advice then to my fellow Jews this weekend is, maybe we can try to ‘take the kapple’. As a family, as a community, stand proud of your Jewishness, stand proud of Israel. Embrace the honor we have in this generation to hold both things so precious to us, close to us and be proud of it. We should remember the advice of Rabbi Sacks on antisemitism, “to never internalize it or accept it on its own terms,” as hearing week after week, people attacking and accusing Israel of things it hasn’t done, can really get you down after a while.

Abraham taught us, that Judaism is about protesting the ways things are and striving for what they ought to be. I remain hopeful that one day, we will see premier league players taking the kapple but in the mean time, I will be praying for an Arsenal miracle on Sunday.

About the Author
Jonathan has been involved in informal youth and adult education for over a decade and in 2017 moved to Israel with his family from London. In his spare time he is an accountant.
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