The Times of Israel
says last Tuesday, Rabbi Daniel Alter, wearing a traditional skullcap (yarmulke or kippa), was walking with his daughter when he was approached by a youth and asked, "Are you a Jew?" Three other youths joined in and attacked the man, hitting him in the face and breaking his cheekbone. They then threatened to kill Alter's 6-year old daughter before fleeing. The Muslim News
reports Alter believes the four young men were Arabs.
Just after the incident, the chairman of the Central Council of Muslims, condemned
the attack and pledged solidarity and empathy with all Jews in Germany, and other Muslim groups quickly added their voices by condemning the attack.
On Saturday, about 150 people held a silent march, wearing Jewish skullcaps to show solidarity with Alter and the local Jewish community. That followed a warning from a Jewish rabbinical seminary in Potsdam, telling its students to avoid wearing kippas in public, after increasing security around the school. Rabbi Walter Homolka says
, “We have also given guidelines to our students on how to behave so that they won’t fall prey to such attacks.” “We advise them not to wear their skullcaps on the street. Instead, they should choose an inconspicuous head cover. Apparently a Jew is only safe if he is not visible as such.”
German officials were outraged by the attack and many say it is unthinkable that Jews should have to hide their identity in Germany, 70-years after the holocaust. BZ
, Berlin's largest newspaper, ran a headline after the rally, saying, “Berlin wears Kippa,” with photos of prominent residents including the mayor, wearing a skullcap.
The 53-year old Alter attended another rally on Sunday in Berlin's Schöneberg district, telling
more than a thousand demonstrators, "The assailants can break my cheekbone but not my will to stand up for understanding and interfaith dialogue."
reports Germany's Office for Criminal Investigation says there have been 436 anti-Semitic attacks this year. Most of the incidents reported have been property attacks such as swastika graffiti, or verbal abuse. But the German news agency dpa says there have been 13 attacks involving physical violence.