Synagogues across the country have been targeted by the same anti-Semitic letter, which depicts a swastika in the centre of a yellow Star of David that’s dripping with blood, and the phrase, “Jewry Must Perish.”
So far, at least 13 Canadian shuls have received the letter: Congregation Beth Ora and Shaare Zedek Congregation in Montreal; Adath Israel Congregation, Beth Tzedec Congregation, Temple Har Zion and Beth Tikvah Synagogue in Toronto; Beth Israel Congregation in Kingston, Ont.; Anshe Sholom Temple in Hamilton, Ont.; Beth Israel Synagogue and Temple Beth Ora in Edmonton; Congregation Emanu-El in Victoria; Young Israel of Ottawa in the nation’s capital; and the Chabad-Lubavitch Centre in Calgary.
Police in each of the eight cities are investigating the matter.
“It appears it was a co-ordinated attack on our community on Chanukah,” said B’nai Brith Canada spokesperson Daniel Koren.
Calgary police believe the letter was sent from somewhere in southern Alberta, since the postmark indicates the letters were processed at a Calgary mail centre.
Adath Israel spiritual leader Rabbi David Seed said that since the shul employs a full-time guard and worked with the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs earlier this year to increase security, he doesn’t see a need to take additional measures, in light of these events.
“We sent a letter to our membership, to make them aware … that we’re on top of everything and that we are dealing with this with the appropriate authorities,” Rabbi Seed said.
Toronto Police Constable Allyson Douglas-Cook said the department is investigating several complaints that have been made since Dec. 18.
“It’s still in the very early stages of the investigation … there are persons within in each unit assigned to look into the similarities, but at this point, there is no suspect information,” Douglas-Cook said.
“We have to try to figure out the source of it, who it came from, what part of the country – all those things will be considered.… We have to let the investigation run its course and allow the investigators do what they need to do, so we can determine what the next course of action will be.”
CIJA said in a statement that while this incident is unsettling and offensive, it doesn’t pose a security threat.
“We must be responsible and smart in how we respond to these acts. We always advise vigilance, but we do not wish to fuel the perception that these acts reflect a security threat – for which there is no evidence at this time,” the statement said.
We will not be intimidated, we will not be threatened.
– Daniel Koren
Shaare Zedek spiritual leader Rabbi Alan W. Bright issued a statement that said: “At this holy time for Jews and Christians alike, we are reminded that we are members of one community, striving for the preservation of truth and freedom. Vile acts of this nature should never divide us. Rather, they should serve to remind us that we be steadfast in our convictions, consistent in our commitment and courageous in our endeavours to make Canada and the world a better place in which to live.”
B’nai Brith Canada CEO Michael Mostyn said that this is just another example of the swastika making “something of a comeback this year, defacing the walls of high schools, university campuses and public property. Today, it is more imperative than ever that we condemn this symbol of racism and hatred.”
Alberta Premier Rachel Notley released a statement condemning the “cowardly acts of hate in the strongest possible terms.
“Anti-Semitism has no place in Alberta or Canada. As Jewish families gather to share in the love and hope of Chanukah, they deserve to do so in peace and security,” Notley said.
The Canadian Association of Jews and Muslims also released a statement in solidarity with the Jewish community.
“It is ironic that anti-Semitic messages were delivered during Chanukah, the holiday celebrating religious freedom and respect for diversity,” the statement signed by co-chairs Shahid Akhtar and Barbara Landau said.
“When hatred is directed at one group, people of goodwill need to say, ‘We stand with you in friendship, respect and compassion. We refuse to be enemies.’ ”
Koren called on Canadians from coast to coast to stand in solidarity with the Jews who are being targeted.
“We will not be intimidated, we will not be threatened. We will continue to celebrate our holidays and pray and worship, the same as we’ve always done,” Koren said.