BERLIN (JTA) – Security guards at a shopping mall in Germany failed to pursue the youths who attacked a rabbi, a German news agency reported.
Mark Dainow, vice chair of the Jewish community of Offenbach, told the epd news service that six to eight youths, who appeared to be of “Middle Eastern origin,” attacked Rabbi Mendel Gurewitz at the southern German district’s KOMM-Center on the evening of June 2.
The youths reportedly shoved the the 39-year-old rabbi and shouted “s*** Jew,” “f*** off” and “viva Palestine.” Investigators are reviewing videotapes from security cameras.
Mall security guards and the alleged assailants reportedly demanded that Gurewitz erase images of the attack he had taken on his smartphone. One of the police officers who arrived after being called by mall security reportedly also told the rabbi to erase the images, which he reportedly did.
The head of the local police department later apologized to the rabbi, as did the mall manager for the behavior of the security personnel.
According to a report in the Hessischen Rundfunk radio online edition, Gurewitz phoned the head of the local Jewish community, Henryk Fridmann, during the incident. The latter reported hearing the words “s*** Jew” over the phone.
Dainow told reporters that the youths followed the rabbi out of the building, but that an acquaintance of the rabbi was driving past and picked him up. Gurewitz described the incident as “horrible, shocking.”
He has filed charges against the unknown assailants.
“The least we can expect now is a full explanation by the authorities,” Corrado Di Benedetto, president of the Union of Councils of Foreigners in the state of Hesse, said in a statement. He called the incident an “attack against the peaceful coexistence of all people in our region.”
Dieter Graumann, head of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, called the incident “shameful and shocking.”
The Conference of Orthodox Rabbis in Germany sent an appeal to the public to be more vigilant against anti-Semitism and racism.
“One can’t look away in denial when Jews are attacked, threatened and cursed in a public place, only because they are recognized as Jews by their head covering,” the group’s statement read in part.