A Jewish employee at the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam has said he was prevented from wearing a kippah by the museum authorities because it might “endanger the neutrality” of the foundation.
Barry Vingerling, a 25-year old Dutch Jew, had been accepted for a position at the Anne Frank House last year. He had not worn a kippah to his interview. However, he told the Nieuw Israëlietisch Weekblad (NIW), a Jewish Dutch magazine, that not wearing a kippah had begun to “eat at him” and that he wanted to wear a kippah at work as he had been doing for years in private.
However, when he began wearing a kippah, he was ordered to remove it.
"I made a request in October and discussed it with the manager,” he said.
“Then I found out that the policy was not to show any beliefs in the workplace when you come into contact with the public. I was shocked because I was not aware of this. I did not expect it to be an issue.
“Here of all places, where Anne Frank was forced to hide because of her identity, I have to hide my Jewish identity?”
Mr Vingerling said that his attempts to discuss it with a Rabbi on the advisory board of the museum had left him equally dismayed.
According to the 25-year old, Rabbi Menno ten Brink, Rabbi of the Liberal Jewish Congregation of Amsterdam, said that “there was no halachic [Jewish law] problem with wearing a hat over a kipah, and suggested I wear the hats provided by the museum, which say ‘Anne Frank House,’.”
Under Dutch law, items of religious clothing cannot be worn openly by employees in public places. Mr Vingerling said he understood the law, but that the Anne Frank House was not the right place to insist on it. He was told that the museum would discuss the case and give him a definitive answer, and that in the meantime he should wear a cap. But six months have gone by since then.
“This is a fundamental moral issue for me," he said.
The museum released a statement saying:
“Until recently we didn’t have a policy on this matter… About six months ago we first received a request from an employee [Mr Vingerling] to wear a kipah. The Anne Frank House’s code of conduct stipulates that employees who work at the museum must be identifiable to visitors and wear the relevantly marked attire.
“As a result of the employee’s request to wear a kipah, the need for a policy discussion on this matter was raised. This is an important issue, which was discussed with various departments in the organization… and will take a while [to decide].
“In the meantime, on the basis of additional inquiry and following consultation with the [museum’s] management and members of the supervisory council, we have decided to allow religious symbols to be worn in the museum and at the Anne Frank House store.”