A prominent Orthodox rabbi from Melbourne, Australia went “into shock” and feared an anti-Semitic who flew into a rage and verbally abused him would “become violent.”
The anti-Semitic incident occurred this week when the rabbi, who was not named by the Australian Jewish News, was at the Crown Casino and Entertainment complex to tour the venue for possible use for a Jewish community event.
According to the news outlet, the rabbi was checking his email on his phone when a man randomly accosted him, claiming he was secretly filming him and his family.
“As a rabbi, you don’t jump and you don’t overreact. The guy had a concern and I’m trying to respond to him and say [I was] ‘absolutely not’ [recording]. I was just reading my emails. And I was even happy to show him my phone,” he said. “But no matter what I said, it made no difference because the guy had come over with an agenda.”
The man, who was described as “middle-aged,” went into a rage, becoming “abusive” and using “disgusting” words.
The rabbi kept his calm and moved away from the man.
However, he said, “There was a moment when I thought the guy would become physically violent, but he didn’t. When he saw that he was not managing to really get me aggravated … he just blurted out a very anti-Semitic comment … What he said is, ‘You’re one of those that Hitler didn’t finish.’”
After the man exited the building, the rabbi said, “That’s when I went into shock. I immediately walked over to the staff, I told them what had just happened, if they could get a security guard to track this person down.”
Security was called, and the incident was reported to the police and to the Anti-Defamation Commission (ADC), the Australian equivalent of the Anti-Defamation League.
The rabbi said that the management of the entertainment complex “acted very well, they were themselves quite shaken.”
Police are looking for the assailant and hoping that they can discover his identity using security camera footage.
Speaking after the attack took place, the rabbi said that while he likes to be positive, the attack left him “very vulnerable.”
“I sat down feeling a lump in my heart, not ever expecting to feel like that. Like ‘wow, what just happened – in the middle of a public place?’ I really didn’t expect something like that to happen in Melbourne,” he said.
He added: “It did leave me shaken but at the same time I’m a big believer that the answer to anti-Semitism – while we can’t just push it under the carpet – is to fight it with what I call pro-Semitism, to be proud of who you are and proud to display who you are… I decided right after that to organize another event for Hanukkah which I wasn’t planning to organize. I said this is my silent response to this anti-Semitic remark.”