With star turns in films like “Barney’s Version” and “Lies My Father Told Me,” Jewish Montreal has been making headlines for its cinematic profile. But a string of anti-Semitic incidents over the weekend is shining a less sanguine spotlight on the city’s Jewish community.
The Montreal Gazette reported today that four synagogues and a Jewish school in the heavily Jewish neighborhoods of Cote St. Luc and Hampstead were targeted by vandals who smashed windows with rocks, causing thousands of dollars in damage.
Rabbi Reuben Poupko, who serves as chairman of the Jewish Community Security Coordinating Committee in Montreal, told the Gazette the crimes constitute “an organized and systematic attack on Jewish institutional life” and promised that the people who use the buildings on a regular basis would not be intimidated by the vandals. “The reason it’s so troubling is that was not an isolated affair,” he said.
Beth Rambam, Tifereth Beth David Jerusalem and Beth Zion synagogues in Côte St. Luc and Dorshei Emet synagogue in Hampstead were all targeted; Academie Yavné, a Jewish school in Côte St. Luc, was also hit.
“These are cowards who act under the cover of darkness, who fling rocks in the middle of the night, and they will not determine how the Jewish community behaves or gathers for prayer or for study,” Poupko told the CTV network. “We will continue to use our institutions despite these continued assaults on our buildings.”
Just two months ago, CTV reported, a synagogue in the Montreal suburb of Laval suffered extensive damage “after it was targeted by vandals who placed a garden hose into a pipe that leads into the building’s oil tank and left it to flood overnight. About 2,300 litres of oil spilled onto the back lawn, causing contamination and other damage to the Young Israel of Chomedey synagogue.”
In another “troubling incident last March,” reported CTV, a synagogue in the heavily Orthodox downtown Outremont neighborhood was defaced with swastikas.