Officers have been engaging with local Jewish communities today to provide reassurance (Credit: Essex Police)
Rabbi Rafi Goodwin, assistant rabbi at Chigwell & Hainault United Synagogue, was the victim of a religiously-aggravated assault on Sunday.
Essex Police believe two teenagers stepped out in front of his car while he was driving on Limes Avenue at around 1.15pm.
They spoke in a derogatory way about his religion and started to damage his vehicle.
When the rabbi got out of his car to confront the suspects, they struck his head with an unknown object and stole his phone.
The teenagers, aged between 15 and 18, fled the scene on foot. Rabbi Rafi, aged in his 30s, was taken to hospital and treated for head injuries.
Both suspects have been described as being of Asian ethnicity, one was 5ft 9ins tall and wore his hair in an Afro-style and the other was described as being 5ft 7ins tall. They wore black jackets and the latter wore grey tracksuit bottoms.
Chief Superintendent Stuart Hooper said: “Detectives are working quickly to progress this investigation, and I’d like to thank locals in the Limes Avenue area who assisted us during our house-to-house enquiries yesterday.
“We’re continuing to review CCTV this morning and we’re receiving crucial pieces of information from people in Chigwell and beyond which will help us move this investigation forward.”
Officers have also been engaging with local Jewish communities in Chigwell and Southend today to provide reassurance as they celebrate Shavuot.
The leader of Redbridge Council, Cllr Jas Athwal, said: “Essex Police have confirmed they are treating today’s attack on Rabbi Rafi as an antisemitic hate crime, however, the police are not linking the motives of this crime to the heightened tensions in the Middle East and the current hostilities in Israel and Palestine.
“Antisemitism has no place in our society and if you have any details relating to this unprovoked and cowardly attack please contact the police.”
Anyone with information about this incident is asked to contact police on 101 quoting the crime reference number 42/92174/21.
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