Janina Levy intervened in an anti-Semitic attack on two men wearing skullcaps that caused outrage across Germany. Levy's bravery has been recognized with a coveted award for civil courage.
Janina Levy will be the recipient of the 2018 Berlin "Prize for Civil Courage Against Right-wing Radicalism, Anti-Semitism and Racism," the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe organization announced Monday.
Levy, the managing director of a Hamburg creative agency, intervened when a Syrian man in Berlin used a leather belt to attack two young men wearing kippas, the traditional Jewish head covering.
Read more: The kippa, a sign of respect for God
Her intervention drove away the perpetrator and the other people with him, and Levy then took care of the victims and made herself available as a court witness in a case that caused outrage nationwide.
A social experiment
A video of the attack depicted a man hurling verbal abuse and striking one of the victims with his belt. The man also yells the word "Jew" in Arabic. At the time, one of the victims — Adam from Israel — told DW that he and his companion had tried to ignore the attackers.
"One of them got real aggressive and ran to me with his belt," Adam told DW. "At that moment I realized I have to take a video of it. I wanted to have evidence for police and the German people and the world to see how terrible it is these days as a Jew to go through Berlin streets."
Adam said that he was an Israeli who grew up in Arab family in Israel and told DW he was actually not Jewish. He said the yarmulke (or skullcap or kippa) he was wearing was a gift from a friend who told him it was "unsafe" to wear outside.
A 19-year-old Syrian admitted to carrying out the attack and told a court in June that he had been under the influence of marijuana, and argued that it had not been an anti-Semitic attack.
He told the judge at the Berlin Tiergarten court that the victim of the attack had insulted him first, and stated he had never hit anyone before, despite the fact that a criminal case against him in also underway in the German city of Cottbus for causing bodily harm.
The prize, which is being awarded for the ninth time, will be presented at the end of October at a traditional charity dinner with proceeds to go towards the "Room of Names," located under the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin, which records the fates of Nazi victims.
A speech will be delivered by Foreign Minister Heiko Maas on the night.
law/rt (AP, dpa, KNA, Reuters)