(CNN)The New York Police Department's Hate Crime Task Force is investigating an assault on a Long Island rabbi by an attacker who allegedly made anti-Semitic remarks and referenced Nazis, police said Saturday.
NYPD investigates assault on rabbi in latest anti-Semitic incident in New York City
The 32-year-old victim was punched in the head and kicked in the legs around 3 p.m. Friday in Brooklyn, according to an NYPD statement.
The incident comes as the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) said reports of assaults, vandalism and harassment targeting Jewish communities and individuals across the country was the highest on record in 2021.
In Friday's incident, the attacker said, "the Nazis and Hitler should have killed all the Jews," before getting away, police Detective Arlene Muniz told CNN Saturday.
The NYPD released surveillance video of the suspect and described him as a man in his 30s, about 6 feet, 3 inches tall, with a "dark complexion, slim build, short black hair and a beard."
Rep. Lee Zeldin, a Republican who represents Long Island, said in a statement late Friday: "Practicing the Jewish faith should not be a life-threatening endeavor anywhere in the world, but especially not in the United States, where we cherish religious freedom."
The congressman added, "New York City's streets and subways are filled right now with violence, hate and lawlessness. Many elected officials empower it, and the justice system remains handcuffed. This has to end now!"
New York state leads the nation in anti-Semitic incidents, with at least 416 reported in 2021, including at least 51 assaults -- the highest number ever recorded by the Anti-Defamation League in New York. There were 12 assaults reported in 2020, the ADL said in an audit last week.
A total of 2,717 anti-Semitic incidents were reported last year across the nation -- a 34% increase compared to 2,026 in 2020, according to the ADL.
The ADL has been tracking such incidents since 1979 -- and its previous reports have found that anti-Semitism in America has been on the rise for years.
The US assaults last year included that of a Jewish man in New York City who was beaten and kicked while anti-Semitic slurs were hurled at him. He was on his way to a pro-Israel demonstration at Times Square on May 20.