Jewish leaders want probe of German rabbi’s attack before sitdown

BERLIN (JTA) — Jewish leaders in the German city of Offenbach rejected an offer to let bygones be bygones in the aftermath of an anti-Semitic attack on their rabbi.

Six boys ages 11 to 15 were identified Tuesday by police as having attacked Rabbi Mendel Gurewitz in the KOMM-Center shopping mall on June 2.

Gurewitz reportedly accepted the indirect apology of one of the alleged assailants, a 14-year-old boy who described himself as the ringleader. But a full investigation should nevertheless be undertaken,  Mark Dainow, vice chair of the Jewish community of Offenbach, told JTA.

According to Dainow, the police suggested holding a news conference at which representatives of the Jewish community, the rabbi and the boys would speak and then shake hands “to show how we are all so nice.”

Dainow, however, said the Jewish community wants a full investigation of the case.

“And then we can definitely meet within the Jewish community, with these youths, and have a discussion,” he said. “But we are not just going to shake hands and walk away.”

Dainow, speaking with JTA in Berlin during a roundtable meeting of Jewish organizations hosted by the Central Council of Jews in Germany, said the alleged assailants were all Muslims but he did not know their ethnic background.

The youths reportedly shoved the rabbi and shouted anti-Semitic curses, as well as “viva Palestine.”

When Gurewitz began to photograph his attackers on his smartphone, the youths reportedly became more aggressive and demanded he erase the images.

Mall security guards also reportedly told Gurewitz to erase the images, as did a police officer called to the scene. The rabbi complied.

The head of the local police department and the mall manager later apologized to the rabbi.

Gurewitz told the Frankfurter Rundschau newspaper on Tuesday that he had not yet spoken personally with the 14-year-old boy, but that the apology was acceptable.

With approximately 1,000 members, the Offenbach Jewish community is one of the largest in the state of Hesse.

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