Shlomo Bistritzky, regional chief rabbi in Hamburg and local Jewish community member Eliezer Noe were leaving a meeting with Mayor Peter Tschentscher in Hamburg city hall on Thursday afternoon when a passerby threatened them and spat on them, German media reported.
A 45-year-old man of Moroccan background was arrested after a struggle with police.
Bistritzky told the Hamburg Abendblatt newspaper that the man first said “Shalom” to them.
“Then he said something that sounded threatening. We faced him and asked him what he had said,” Bistritzky continued. “He then reached under his shirt and pulled out something… and began to threaten us verbally.”
The object reportedly turned out to be a lighter; the man held out the open flame while spewing insults and spitting at the men. He reportedly spoke both Arabic and German.
Bistritzky took a cell phone photo of the man and ran back to the city hall, where police were standing. The officers attempted to speak with the man, who then tried to flee, while spitting on Bistritzky and Noe again.
Eventually, police subdued and arrested the man, placing a “spit protection hood” on him.
The existence of something called a, "spit protection hood" suggests that the local cops have to deal with a lot of spitting.
I suspect that's at least partially a cultural issue.
The AP notes,
German police say they temporarily detained a Moroccan man who is accused of threatening, insulting and spitting at two Jews in the northern city of Hamburg.
The story lacks a whole lot of context. And I think we can speculate safely about the theological motivation of the 'Moroccan' man.
On his Facebook page, Rabbi Shlomo Bistritzky notes that another rabbi, Rabbi Chaim Barkahn had also been there.
Rabbi Barkahn, who is a rabbi in Dusseldorf, posted, "On this occasion, I would like to thank everyone who has supported me in the last few days. I would like to repeat what I also emphasized to the press: as Jews in Germany, we must be able to live in security our Jewish identity. We should continue to walk on the road with a kippa and pray in our synagogue without having to be afraid. We are not allowed to hide. We have helped in Germany to rebuild flourishing Jewish life. Our principle is that with light, every darkness can be driven out and that we face hate with love. We give all our fellow citizens the hand to peaceful each other in tolerance and openness."