Raphael Nissel and his wife were walking to their Beverly Hills synagogue Saturday morning when a man struck Nissel's head from behind with a belt buckle.
Nissel, who wore a yarmulke, was left dazed and bloodied by the attack.
“My wife told me, ‘Watch out!’” Nissel, 75, told The Times on Sunday. “All of a sudden, something hard hit my forehead.”
The assailant turned to Nissel’s wife, Rivka, and allegedly said, “Jew, give me your jewelry,” but fled after Nissel gave chase.
Officers responded to a report of an assault with a deadly weapon that morning at North Rexford Drive and North Santa Monica Boulevard, near the Beverly Hills Police Department. They took over the pursuit of the suspect.
Nissel suffered a deep cut to his head, which he said required four staples, and was treated at the scene.
Scheduled to give a reading from the Torah that day at Young Israel of North Beverly Hills, an orthodox synagogue, Nissel didn’t allow the attack to deter him.
“My wife had to run to the house to bring me a new shirt,” he said. “I walked to the synagogue and was able to perform.”
Based on a description of the suspect, police later found and arrested Jarris Jay Silagi.
In a Sunday afternoon news release, Beverly Hills Police Chief Mark Stainbrook said his officers acted swiftly in taking Silagi into custody.
“This despicable act of hate against a member of our community will not be tolerated,” Stainbrook said.
Silagi, 44, of Los Angeles, was booked on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon, attempted robbery, elder abuse and a hate crime. A prior conviction for an attempted second-degree robbery in 2012 also occurred in Beverly Hills.
Silagi is being held at Los Angeles County Jail in lieu of $100,000 bail.
He is due at the Los Angeles County Superior Court's Airport Courthouse on Tuesday as Beverly Hills police continue their investigation.
Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass called the attack a “vile act” in a Sunday afternoon post on X, the social media site formerly known as Twitter.
A hate crimes report released last month by the Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations found that anti-Jewish offenses skyrocketed by 59% last year and accounted for an overwhelming majority of religiously motivated hate crimes.
Officials have also noted a sharp rise in anti-Muslim and anti-Jewish hate crimes since the Israel-Hamas war began Oct. 7 which were not included in the 2022 report.
Bass pledged that the city would continue to work with its partners to “actively combat antisemitism.”
Nissel appreciated the mayor’s comments.
“I’m doing well,” Nissel said. “The most important part are the incidents we have to prevent in the future."
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.