Raphy Nissel and his wife Rebecca were on their way to their synagogue on Saturday when they were confronted by Jarris Jay Silagi, a 44-year-old L.A. resident who attacked Raphy with a belt.
“He hit my husband over the head and yelled, ‘Give me your earrings, Jew,’” Rebecca said.
Raphy said he did not know what Silagi was hitting him with, but he felt a lot of pain.
“I realized he saw my kippah and my white shirt, which Jews wear on Saturdays. He hated me because I was Jewish,” he said.
The couple chased Silagi and called the police, who arrested him shortly after.
Raphy’s son, Alan Tzvika Nissel, posted a photo of his father’s bloody shirt on X, formerly Twitter, and denounced the hate crime.
The incident is part of a surge in antisemitic incidents since the violent attack by Hamas on Israel on Oct. 7, according to the Anti-Defamation League.
L.A. County District Attorney George Gascón condemned another antisemitic act in Westwood, where graffiti was sprayed on walls and sidewalks, and said he was “angry and fearful” for the Jewish community.
L.A. Mayor Karen Bass and Governor Gavin Newsom also expressed their outrage and solidarity on X, and demanded justice for the victim.
Raphy, who is 75 years old, said he wanted to raise awareness about the dangers of antisemitism.
“I want the media and the world to teach people that antisemitism is not just a word, but a reality that can lead to violence and horror,” he said.
After receiving treatment for his head wounds, Raphy returned to his synagogue and read from the Torah, showing his resilience and faith.
“He has incredible strength, which made him do it and succeed,” Rebecca said.
“I don’t want to let a man like that ruin my life, or anyone else’s life, or hurt me,” Raphy said. “I don’t want to give him another win.”
The Beverly Hills Police Department confirmed that Silagi made antisemitic remarks during the assault. He faces charges of assault with a deadly weapon, attempted robbery, elder abuse and a hate crime. He will appear in court on Tuesday.