Two men have been arrested on suspicion of grievous bodily harm with intent after a rabbi was attacked near his synagogue, police have said.
Essex Police said that two men, aged 18 and 25, from Ilford, north-east London, had been arrested on Monday after Rabbi Rafi Goodwin was attacked in Chigwell, north London, on Sunday.
Police said that the men were currently in custody.
Police said officers were speaking to community members and religious leaders, who are celebrating Shavuot, in Chigwell and Southend, Essex.
We've arrested two men over an assault in #Chigwell.— Essex Police (@EssexPoliceUK) May 17, 2021
We've been engaging w/Jewish communities to provide reassurance today.@DetChSuptHooper: “We don't currently believe the incident's related to events overseas or those elsewhere in the country.”
Read: https://t.co/0518B8scC7 pic.twitter.com/hu3QiR3yRQ
Chief Superintendent Stuart Hooper said: “We know this is a very important time – a time for communities to come together, to be around each other and celebrate.
“We do not want anyone to feel that they cannot do that safely.
“Officers have spent the day speaking with the Jewish community to provide reassurance.”
Essex Police said that the incident was not believed to be linked to wider pro-Palestine protests that took place over the weekend.
Officers were called to Limes Avenue in Chigwell shortly after 1.15pm on Sunday following reports a man had been attacked with an unknown item following a verbal altercation.
IMPORTANT UPDATE pic.twitter.com/SPf5CZeyZF— Jas Athwal (@Jas_Athwal) May 16, 2021
Community leaders have offered their support to Rabbi Goodwin, who required hospital treatment and also had his phone stolen.
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 a 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.
“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.”
Please pray for my dear friend and colleague Rabbi Rafi Goodwin who has been brutally attacked this morning near to his synagogue in Chigwell. His Hebrew name is Harav Yirmiyahu Pesach ben Kreina Deborah.— Moshe Freedman (@MosheFreedman) May 16, 2021
Moshe Freedman, rabbi of New West End Synagogue in central London, asked people to pray for his “dear friend and colleague” following the attack.
And Rabbi Herschel Gluck told the PA news agency: “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.”
Police are urging witnesses, especially people with relevant CCTV, dashcam or door bell footage, particularly in the areas of Limes Avenue, Tudor Crescent, and Fencepiece Road, to come forward.
Anyone with information should call Loughton CID on 101 quoting the crime reference number 42/92174/21.