(JTA) — Berlin authorities are investigating two attacks on Jewish train passengers reported on the same day last week, amid a growing number of reported anti-Semitic incidents in Berlin.
In one incident on September 13, Ariel Kirzon, an Orthodox rabbi who heads a community in the Berlin suburb of Potsdam, was speaking Hebrew on his mobile phone outside a commuter train station when a man allegedly I said I pushed him and insulted him. Called him a “schrecklicher Scheissjude” (a terrible f-ing Jew) and made anti-Semitic slurs.
Kirzon said his 13-year-old son, who was with him at the time, now feels uneasy about life in Germany and the family is considering sending him to live in the United States. “I travel the United States very often and have been to all the big cities,” a rabbi who belongs to the Chabad movement told the BZ tabloid. It is not.”
Later the same day, a 33-year-old man was verbally attacked and beaten on an S-Bahn commuter train, Berlin police said. The attacker reportedly used anti-Semitic slurs and beat the victim’s head and upper body along with another man. The victim got off the train as another passenger tried to protect him, but the assailant remained inside. Police said the victim’s physical injuries were not serious enough to require medical attention.
Both cases are under investigation by the State Security Service and the victims have been charged. In Kilzon’s case at least, investigators said they had secured video surveillance of the station, but the perpetrators are still at large.
The report comes amid a growing tally of anti-Semitic incidents in Berlin, according to the German watchdog, the Center for Anti-Semitism Research and Information. The group says that in 2021 he recorded 1,052 incidents, including 22 physical attacks. More than half of the reports involved online anti-Semitism. The 2020 and 2019 totals were 1,019 and 886 respectively.
National statistics worry even Jewish leaders. Germany’s latest report on annual anti-Semitic crimes across the country, released in May, noted a nearly 29% year-on-year increase in such crimes in 2021. This is based on statistics he reported in May by Germany’s FBI equivalent, the Federal Criminal Police Service.
Kirzon has asked his community in Potsdam to provide more security since he reported the attack against him last week. Police patrol the synagogue on holidays, but according to German news reports, he wants officers to be present for the rest of the year.