Montreal, April 4, 2023 – Leaders of several racial and religious minorities gathered today in front of the historic Bagg Street Synagogue to denounce a recent act of desecration that saw a vandal or vandals spray paint the building with swastikas.
The building, dating from 1899, is Quebec’s oldest living synagogue, continually hosting the Beis Shloime Congregation since March 1921.
“We want to thank the neighbours and community organizations from across Montreal who have rallied to express their solidarity with us,” said Sam Sheraton, speaking on behalf of the congregation. This was a vile hate crime, and it is traumatic. Our shul does not have security cameras. We ask anyone who might have information that will aid in the apprehension of the person or person responsible to come forward.”
Mr. Sheraton discovered the hate symbols on March 27 and was instrumental in alerting the police and B’nai Brith as well as ensuring that the hateful graffiti was removed as quickly as possible.
Upon learning of the synagogue’s desecration, B’nai Brith wrote to Mayor Plante and the members of City Council urging that more be done to combat a growing number of antisemitic incidents in the city.
B’nai Brith is calling on Montreal to observe Yom HaShoah, the day of commemoration for the six million Jews murdered in the Holocaust, by restoring the past practice of inviting the Jewish community to City Hall to read the names of victims as an act of remembrance and public education.
“B’nai Brith is also calling on the province to emulate Ontario which has mandated that Holocaust education commence in elementary school,” says Marvin Rotrand, B’nai Brith’s National Director of its League for Human Rights. “Curriculum is currently being developed by the Ontario College of Teachers so that age-appropriate material can be taught in Grade 6 as of the 2023-2024 academic year. Ontario found that nearly 40% of students graduate with little knowledge of the Holocaust and are susceptible to Holocaust denial and distortion. Things are no different in Quebec”.
Today’s gathering in solidarity with the Jewish community, will see speakers including Fo Niemi, Executive Director of CRARR, Farida Mohamed of the National Council of Muslim Women, Frantz Voltaire, President, Semaine d’actions contre le racisme, Sharon Nelson, Vice President of the Jamaica Association of Montreal and Bryant Chang, Vice President of the Chinese Association of Montreal support the Jewish community and denounce this act of antisemitism.
“This despicable act of antisemitism shows the urgent need for all levels of government and civil society to take concrete actions to confront hate in all its forms. In the coming weeks, we will bring together victims of hate crime, various vulnerable communities, the police and other agencies to develop a Montreal action plan to combat hate”, indicated Fo Niemi, Executive Director of CRARR.
B’nai Brith’s 2021 audit of antisemitic incidents saw Quebec lead the country in acts of hate targeting Jews. Ontario placed second in 2021. B’nai Brith’s 2022 audit will be released later this month.
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