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Police seize illegal wine at Montreal shul

Bottles of wine
Wine cellar

Police seized 650 cases, or 8,000 bottles, of kosher wine at the Young Israel of Montreal synagogue on Hillsdale Road on April 28 during Passover.

Two men were interviewed and may face charges or fines for selling and importing alcohol without a permit.

Police said the wine was being sold illegally in what they described as a store in the basement of the Côte des Neiges synagogue. The wine is believed to have been smuggled in from Israel by ship.

Police said they had the synagogue under surveillance for about a month, after a neighbour complained that it appeared alcohol was being sold out of the building.

The Société des alcools du Québec controls all alcohol importation and sales in the province. Private importation and sale is legal but must be regulated.

The synagogue has been owned by the Belz chassidic community since last year, while the original congregation, founded more than 60 years ago, remains a tenant.

A phone call on May 2 to the Young Israel yielded this taped message: “We are not connected in any way with the wine store located in the building and have no information to offer in that regard.”

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