A leading Jewish group in Germany said Tuesday it was shocked by a German-Israeli singer’s report of being turned away from a hotel in the eastern German city of Leipzig because he was wearing a Star of David pendant.
Singer Gil Ofarim, who lives in Germany, shared a video on Instagram Tuesday showing him in front of the Westin hotel in Leipzig and saying a hotel employee asked him to put away his necklace in order to check into the hotel.
The head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Josef Schuster, responded on Twitter, saying “the antisemitic hostility against Gil Ofarim is appalling. One hopes that the Westin will take consequences regarding their staff,” Schuster tweeted. “I also hope that in the future we will encounter solidarity when we get attacked.”
The Westin Leipzig told The Associated Press in an email that it was “concerned and alarmed by the intolerable accusations by Mr. Ofarim.” General manager Andreas Hachmeister wrote that the hotel employee in question was put on leave while the hotel tries to reach Ofarim to shed light on the entire incident.
Ofarim’s manager, Yvonne Probst, could not immediately be reached for comment. German news agency dpa quotes his management team as saying that Ofarim, 39, did not want to comment further publicly.
Ofarim is the son of Israeli singer Abi Ofarim, who performed with his first wife, Esther, during the 1950s and 1960s. The couple were known internationally for their renditions of folksongs and chansons.
In his Instagram video, Ofarim says he was standing in line to register at the hotel and noticed that people standing behind him received service well ahead of him. “I was standing there, with my necklace, and one person after the next was pulled out from behind me,” Ofarim said.
He said when he eventually got to the front of the line and asked why everybody else was getting preferential treatment, a hotel employee told him he, too, could check in if he put away his Star of David necklace first. Ofarim, who was close to tears when he talked about his experience on Instagram, did not say what happened next but added: “Really? Germany in 2021.”
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Ofarim, 39, said that the line was very long because the computers at the check-in counter were out of order. “I was standing in the line wearing my necklace which is my right and which I have worn all my life,” he said
Later on Tuesday, hundreds of people protested against antisemitism in front of the Westin hotel in Leipzig, dpa reported. Several people held up a large banner saying “Against any kind of antisemitism. We remember.”
Irena Rudolph-Kokot, one of the protest organizers, said “we support Jews in Germany who are way too often exposed” to antisemitism. Several hotel employees also joined the protest and helped to put up a banner with the flag of Israel in front of the building’s entrance, dpa reported.
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem & AP)