Manchester teenager survives coma after antisemitic attack


A Jewish teenager who was kicked in the head during an antisemitic attack was recovering in hospital this week.

Moshe Fuerst was with three friends when they were approached by three men at a tram station in Manchester.

The JC understands the two groups clashed after shouting at each other.

One of the four Jewish boys was said to have knocked out the teeth of one attacker during the fight at the Bowker Bale Metrolink station last Saturday night.

But former Manchester Mesivta student Moshe - who is known as "Little Man" to friends as a result of his slight frame and 5ft 4in height - was knocked unconscious. Police described the incident as a serious antisemitic assault.

The 17-year-old was taken to hospital and initially discharged. He returned to Salford Royal Hospital on Sunday after he complained of headaches, and vomited and collapsed.

His father, Rabbi Michael Fuerst, from Prestwich, said it was a miracle his son had survived the attack.

"These guys were probably out looking for some fun, to beat someone up. They kicked Moshe in the head and he blacked out," Rabbi Fuerst said.

"He was kicked in the head while he was on the floor. It's a very serious injury."

Rabbi Fuerst said doctors had initially sent his son home in the early hours of Sunday morning.

"They did a CT scan but they did not see the bleed to the brain," he continued. "It was soon after the incident, so it had not yet progressed.

"On Sunday, he was sleeping it off and felt better enough to go to the cinema with his friends. That is when the headaches started.

"I was davening Selichot when this was going on. I got to the hospital a few minutes after he did.

"When the scan came up, you could see a big, black mass of blood. He could have been left brain damaged. He would have passed into a coma and died, God-forbid."

Rabbi Fuerst said the attackers could have "committed murder" but the NHS had "managed to sort it out".

He confirmed that his son, who has ADHD and dyslexia and works at the Ta'am kosher grill in Prestwich, was recovering after being brought out of a coma on Monday.

But the rabbi questioned whether antisemitism had been the key driving force behind the attack. "They were not neo-Nazis out looking for Jewish boys to beat up. They were drunk kids. I imagine they knew they were all Jewish - one of the boys was wearing a yarmulke.

"They asked them whether they were going to town to make a lot of money."

At one stage, a source close to the Fuerst family had suggested the row between the two groups was sparked by drugs.

Rabbi Fuerst, a property developer, at first said that could be the case, but later rejected the claim.

He said: "I am not denying that Moshe has a problem with marijuana, but he adamantly denies that it played any significant role in the altercation.

"I have spoken to all of the boys and the police and can confirm it is 100 per cent not true."

Rabbi Fuerst admitted drug-taking was a problem in north Manchester's Charedi community. He said his Jerusalem-born son was "on the fringes of society. The community has forced him to the fringes. I was told to send him off to Israel or America".

Greater Manchester Police said the attack was being treated as a hate crime and moved to reassure the Jewish community. No arrests had been made by Wednesday.

The Community Security Trust said the assault was "random and thuggish street antisemitism and violence that is all too common".

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