The owner of Mazal Tov Kosher Cuisine restaurant near downtown Windsor said she’s alarmed by an act of vandalism after someone threw a large rock through her restaurant window in the early hours of Feb. 2.
And one prominent member of the local Jewish community suggests the vandalism could be a hate crime.
Police are still investigating and have not reached any conclusions.
“There’s no evidence right now that this is a hate-related crime,” police spokesperson Const. Andy Drouillard said Feb. 7.
Mazal Tov’s owner Mazal, who didn’t want to give her last name because of security concerns, said she was “very upset” by the incident and doesn’t understand why anyone would attack the restaurant or her.
“I tell you that I have no hate for anybody,” she said. “I don’t see colour. I don’t see religion. I see the human being.”
Mazal has owned the restaurant – its name is a play on her first name – for 19 years. It’s attached to Peretz House, a multicultural seniors’ complex, which in turn is connected to the Windsor Jewish Community Centre.
She said she came to work the morning of Feb. 2 and saw glass splintered on the floor and on the neatly set tables. Then she saw a “big stone, and that’s when I discovered the hole in the window.”
The incident was caught on security video and shows a slim young man walking along the side of the building, stopping, and then heaving a boulder through the window. He then turned around and walked back toward the rear parking lot. The dark-haired man in the video is wearing glasses, light pants and a darker jacket.
“He was walking like normal, and then he just came and threw the stone and walked right back,” Mazal said.
Mazal said the vandalism seemed premeditated, because the man wasn’t walking casually and just spontaneously picked up a rock. She said it was like it was “his mission to come and throw the stone.”
She described the rock as “bigger than my head,” and “maybe 25 centimetres by 30 [centimetres],” adding “it’s very hard to move.”
Mazal said it will cost $2,000 to fix the window, which has been temporarily repaired. She said it wasn’t worth going through insurance.
Rabbi Shalom Galperin of Shaarey Zedek Synagogue, who was dining the next day in the restaurant and saw the destruction, said he thought the incident was more than “just some sort of random act.”
He said the size of the rock itself suggests a certain intention of the vandal. “Ultimately that individual has to have brought the rock to there [and] throw it,” he said.
Rabbi Galperin said he couldn’t conclude for certain that there was anti-Semitic intent. “Was it a hate crime for sure?” he asked. ”I said it’s a possibility.”
The incident is the first anyone could recall at the restaurant or neighbouring seniors complex and JCC.
Galperin said the Windsor community has been “lucky” with good relations with Muslims and Christians, including multifaith services, such as vigils following the recent mass shooting of Muslims at a mosque in Quebec City last month.
David Robins, president of the Windsor Jewish Federation, called the incident “very concerning.” He said the vandalism remains under police investigation, and “we continue to take appropriate measures to protect our community and its institutions from unacceptable acts such as this.”
Jay Katz, executive director of the Windsor JCC, said security around the centre remains a priority. “We’re always concerned about our security and this is being investigated,” he said. “We’ll find out the nature of what this was and hopefully the person will be caught.”