Officials say an escapee from a psychiatric institution slashed a rabbi and his son with a box-cutter near a Paris synagogue on Tuesday before being tackled and subdued by witnesses.

Richard Prasquier, who heads CRIF, France's largest umbrella organization of Jewish groups, says the rabbi was recovering from surgery after the attack and the son sustained lesser injuries. He said the assailant was of Iranian origin, and a police investigation was under way to determine the attacker's possible motive.

A Paris police official said the attack on the rabbi, who is in his late 40s, and the 18-year-old son took place north of a touristic shopping area near Paris' gilded Opera house. The official said the attacker, now in police custody, escaped from a psychiatric hospital near southeastern Lyon last week.

French Jews have faced an unprecedented wave of anti-Semitic attacks recently. The rate of such incidents in France rose by 60 percent in 2012, double the international rate, compared with 2011, according to according to an annual report released earlier this month by Tel Aviv University's Kantor Center for the Study of Contemporary European Jewry.

The most gruesome of these was the fatal shooting of a rabbi and teacher, his 6-year-old and 3-year-old sons, and an 8-year-old girl at the Ozar Hatorah School in Toulouse in March.