German Jewish leader says he was verbally harassed on Yom Kippur


(JTA) — A leader of Germany’s Jewish community reportedly showed a verbal assailant a pistol after being taunted on Yom Kippur.

The secretary general of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Stephan Kramer, told the French news agency AFP that the incident occurred on Sept. 26 as he walked home during Yom Kippur with his four children near the Kurfuerstendamm, one of central Berlin’s main streets.

"The man obviously felt provoked by the open prayer book I was carrying and my beard," Kramer told AFP. He added that he could not be sure the man had seen that the book he was carrying was a prayer book, but said the taunts were “definitely xenophobic."   

According to Kramer, the passer-by told him several times "to get out of here" in an aggressive fashion. Kramer said he showed the man he was carrying a gun in what he said was a bid to calm the situation.

"The weapon never left the holster," he told AFP.   

A nearby fast-food vendor called the police. When the law enforcement officials arrived, both men pressed charges against one another. The Berlin police said it had launched an investigation into a "reciprocal threat."   

Kramer told Der Spiegel that he started carrying a pistol eight years ago with a permit for personal protection, but also as a security officer for the Central Council of Jews in Germany.

Berlin Mayor Klaus Wowereit told AFP, "Threats against Jewish citizens on the streets are disgraceful and absolutely not acceptable."   

In August, Rabbi Daniel Alter was attacked in broad daylight in Berlin by four youths of Arab origin who also threatened to kill his 6-year-old daughter, apparently because he was wearing a kipah, police said.


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