Rabbi hospitalised after being attacked outside synagogue in Chigwell

17 May 2021, 06:59 | Updated: 17 May 2021, 09:07

The rabbi was attacked outside his synagogue in Chigwell, Essex
The rabbi was attacked outside his synagogue in Chigwell, Essex. Picture: Google Street View
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

A rabbi has been taken to hospital after being attacked outside his synagogue in Essex on Sunday.

Essex Police said officers were called to Limes Avenue in Chigwell shortly after 1:15pm following reports of a racially aggravated assault against Rabbi Rafi Goodwin.

The force said it believed two teenagers stepped out in front of the victim's vehicle while he was driving. They then shouted at him and reportedly began making anti-semitic remarks before damaging his car.

When Mr Goodwin, aged in his 30s, got out of his vehicle to confront them he was attacked with an unknown object, causing him to require hospital treatment, police said.

Community leaders have offered their support to the rabbi following the attack, during which his phone was stolen.

The two boys, believed to be aged between 15 and 18, are believed to have fled the scene on foot.

Read more: Four arrested after reports of anti-Semitic threats shouted from cars

Read more: At least 76 Palestinian casualties after series of Israeli airstrikes

Both have been described as being of Asian ethnicity.

One was approximately 5ft 9in, wore his hair in an Afro-style and was wearing a black jacket. The other was described as being 5ft 7in and was wearing a black jacket and grey tracksuit bottoms.

Essex Police confirmed that the incident was not linked to wider pro-Palestine protests that occurred over the weekend.

A spokesperson for the force said: "We know that this incident may be concerning for those in the local area, and we are working quickly to identify those responsible and to liaise with community leaders for any further support for those impacted."

The leader of Redbridge Council, Jas Athwal, said on Sunday: "Essex Police have confirmed that they are treating today's attack on Rabbi Rafi as an anti-Semitic hate crime, however police are not linking the motives of this crime to heightened tensions in the Middle East and the current hostilities in Israel and Palestine.

Read more: '100,000' protesters march through London in Free Palestine demonstration

Read more: Israeli airstrike destroys Gaza tower block HQ of international media outlets

"Anti-semitism has no place in our society and if you have any information about this unprovoked and cowardly attack, please contact the police.

"We are proud of our community and all parts of the community in Redbridge, we unequivocally condemn this attack and will continue to work together to support each other."

Moshe Freedman, Rabbi of New West End Synagogue, asked people to pray for his "dear friend and colleague" following the attack.

Responding to the incident, Rabbi Herschel Gluck said: "Whenever a person is attacked like this, it touches me deeply.

"The person themselves, their families, their congregation and their friends are all affected by this.

"Even though it is an individual, it has much broader and wider ramifications."

Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call Loughton CID on 101 quoting the crime reference number 42/92174/21.