The 53-year-old Rabbi Daniel Alter, who was beaten by four youths of Arab background, attended the demonstration in Berlin. He thanked the crowd for the "wonderful outpouring of moral support" for his family. "My cheekbone was broken but these guys did not break my will to stand up for dialogue between religions," he said.
BERLIN (EJP)---Some 1,500 people rallied in Berlin Sunday in support of a rabbi who was brutally beaten in front of his young daughter by a group of four youths of Arab background.
The protest against anti-Semitism and racism took place near the scene of the attack on 53-year-old Daniel Alter in the western district of Schoeneberg on Tuesday.
Alter, who attended the demonstration, thanked the crowd for the "wonderful outpouring of moral support" for his family.
"My cheekbone was broken but these guys did not break my will to stand up for dialogue between religions," he said.
Police have launched an investigation but made no arrests in the case.
During the attack, one youth smashed Alter in the face several times after asking him if he was Jewish, apparently because he was wearing a traditionalskullcap, police said. The four assailants fled, but not before hurling death threats at his young daughter, according to police.
Berlin Mayor Klaus Wowereit who denounced the attack just a short time after it occurred had called on all Berliners to wear kippot or yarmulkes at the demonstration as a gesture of support for the rabbi.
Under the headline "Berlin is wearing a kippah" the Berliner Zeitung, one of the German capital's most popular newspapers published a front page story featuring some of Berlin's most prominent residents wearing yarmulkes on their heads.
"Berliners show their solidarity and wear a kippah," the report stated. The newspaper explained that the head of Berlin's Charlottenburg and Wilmersdorf districts, where many immigrants live, came to the newspaper offices and suggested the act of solidarity.
"It's a good idea; it's a strong symbol of solidarity. In Judaism the kippah symbolizes devoutness and humbleness before God," explained Stan Schultz a parliament member from Berlin's Spandau district.
A Berlin city government official of Turkish origin, Dilek Kolat, called for more vigilance in the face of what she called a rising tide of hate crimes and for a firm response to anti-Semitism from Muslim groups.
"We must act where we see racism and xenophobia," she said to applause from the crowd.
The Jewish community of Berlin's point man on anti-Semitism, Levi Salomon, welcomed support from local leaders, noting that Mayor Klaus Wowereit wore a Jewish skullcap late Saturday at an event showcasing the German capital's diverse religious groups.
"That was a good sign," he said.
During the attack, one youth smashed Alter in the face several times after asking him if he was Jewish, apparently because he was wearing a traditional skullcap, police said.
The attack against the rabbi comes against the backdrop of frequent altercations on German streets over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and outrage in the Jewish community over a recent German court ruling against religious circumcision.