A 14-year-old teenager has been charged with a hate crime after punching a Rabbi in the face.

Rabbi Yonatan Halevy, 31, said he was walking his father when the teen allegedly assaulted him last week in San Diego, California.

The teen, who cannot be named due to his age, was charged and booked into jail on Friday for battery and hate crime charges, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Halevy told police the teen rode past him on his bike and hit him so hard, he was knocked to the ground during the incident on October 10.

He said the boy shouted racial slurs at the pair and said ‘white power’ before he cycled off.

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‘I was shocked, stunned, and hurt, but was grateful that my father was unharmed,’ he wrote on his synagogue’s website.

The rabbi said his congregation had been targeted for weeks by a group of teens who had heckled at his synagogue and even broken a car window.

Halevy told Fox 10 News: ‘Everyday they come by here, taunt us, throwing bottles at us, sitting on our roof blasting music, and then breaking a window to my van.’

The rabbi said the initial response from police was minimal, even after he provided photos of the teen taunting him and his father.

Authorities admitted that they should have handled the case better initially. San Diego Police Department’s Captain Matt Novak said he spoke to the rabbi personally and ‘acknowledged that the initial response could have been better.’

After the teen was finally charged, Halevy said he was encouraged to see that police were taking the incident seriously.

‘It went from “They can’t do anything” to “This is No. 1 priority,'” he said. ‘To the credit of the Police Department, they have owned up to their inadequate response.’

Tammy Gillies of the Anti-Defamation League in San Diego said that this encounter should not be taken lightly.

‘We don’t want to be dismissive and say it was just kids,’ Gillies said. ‘We have to take hate and any hate incident very seriously.’

She added: ‘It doesn’t just impact the target, but it’s a message to the whole community that says, “We don’t want you here.” That is the double impact of the hate crime.’

In April 2019, a 19-year-old shot up a synagogue near Halevy’s congregation, killing one and wounding three.

There were over 2,100 hate crimes against the Jewish people in 2019, the highest it’s ever been since 1979, according to the Anti-Defamation League.

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