The leader of the French Jewish community in Marseilles asked men and boys Tuesday to refrain from wearing the traditional skullcap, a day after a teenager attacked a Jewish teacher.
Zvi Ammar said his call to abandon the kippah "until better days" caused him great pain.
"As soon as we are identified as Jewish, we can be assaulted and even risk death," Ammar told French media. He said he would rather be criticized for his decision by fellow Jews than "regretting one day if by misfortune something very grave occurs."
A 15-year-old Turkish Kurd attacked a Jewish teacher with a machete in Marseilles on Monday, cutting his shoulder and hand. The suspect told police he acted in the name of the Islamic State.
It was the third such attack on Jews in France in recent months, and it came as the country remembered the victims of last year's terror attack on the Charlie Hebdo magazine and siege of a kosher supermarket in Paris, in which 17 people died.