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August 1, 2019 2:56 pm

‘We Will Not Hide,’ Leading Berlin Rabbi Pledges After Enduring Antisemitic Assault on Walk Home from Synagogue

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Rabbi Yehuda Teichtal giving a media interview in Berlin. Photo: Screenshot.

German police launched an investigation on Wednesday following an incident last week in which one of Berlin’s most prominent rabbis was insulted and spat on.

Returning home with one of his children from Shabbat services last Friday night, Rabbi Yehuda Teichtal was set upon by two men, who insulted him in Arabic and then spat at him. The attack was another reminder of the dangers facing visibly identifiable Jews in the German capital, where well over 1,000 antisemitic incidents — several of them involving violence — were recorded in 2018.

In a statement reflecting on his experience, Teichtal asserted that “the aggression against Jews has developed a life of  its own, both in the schoolyards and on the streets of Berlin.” He added that he remained “convinced that most people in Berlin do not want to accept this aggression against Jews as a sad part of everyday Jewish life,” promising that “we will not hide now, but rather continue to build on love, tolerance, dialogue and education.”

Several Berlin politicians expressed solidarity with Teichtal —  a well-known Chabad movement rabbi who serves as the chairman of the Jewish Educational Center in Berlin, where he has been based for over 20 years.

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Berlin Senator Dirk Behrendt tweeted that the attack was “shameful — we will not cease to fight antisemitism in all its manifestations,” while Raed Saleh, leader of the left-wing SPD Party in Berlin, declared that “the attack on my friend Rabbi Teichtal is an attack on all of us.”

The head of the Berlin Jewish community demanded that the police provide an escort to rabbis traveling to synagogue in a separate statement. Such a measure was necessary in order for them “to make their way to the synagogue and back undisturbed,” Dr. Gideon Joffe said on Wednesday.

Asked to respond to Joffe’s proposal by the Tagesspiegel news outlet, a spokesperson for the Berlin Interior Administration said that “protection of the Jewish community and its members is our top priority.” However, the spokesperson declined to give concrete details of additional security measures being taken, saying only that the Berlin police were monitoring the situation “continuously.”

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