TORONTO — In what might be a first at Queen’s Park, Peter Shurman, Conservative MPP for Thornhill, has put up mezuzot on both his inner and outer chamber doors.
Peter Shurman, Conservative MPP for Thornhill, stands outside his chambers at Queen’s Park in front of his new Jerusalem-stone mezuzah. [Andy Levy-Ajzenkopf photo]
Shurman, who is Jewish, is a first-time MPP and was elected to Queen’s Park in last year’s provincial election.
He put up the mezuzot on March 31, the same day he gave his inaugural speech in the provincial legislature, he told The CJN.
“I was anxious to put a mezuzah up on the door, because it’s part of my heritage,” Shurman said. “A significant portion of Thornhill is occupied by Jewish people, many of whom are extremely religious, [and] worked hard in my campaign.”
Shurman noted that the mezuzah on his outer office door is made of Jerusalem stone and was purchased in Israel by an observant friend specifically for his office.
“I was honoured to receive it,” he said.
He added that the mezuzot were put up by prominent rabbis from Thornhill who were loyal to his campaign.
“I’m grateful to them for helping me get things started off with this mitzvah and putting these very important symbols of daily Jewish life on the entrance of the most important place of my business career,” Shurman said.
Whether it’s permissible for Shurman to place a religious symbol in public view at the province’s main legislative building is an open question.
Pamela Longhurst, a spokesperson for the Office of the Sergeant at Arms – the office responsible for security and building management at Queen’s Park – said there are no official regulations or conventions prohibiting Shurman or others from putting up religious signs or symbols at their personal chambers.
“If a member wants to do it, it’s their office. I’m not sure if we allow it, but it’s not something we’ll police,” Longhurst said. “I don’t know if [a mezuzah placement] has been done before. We don’t track that information.”
Shurman said he didn’t think he would “get into trouble” for putting up the mezuzah.
Rabbi Michael Stavsky, who works at The CJN, noted that if Shurman were asked to take down the mezuzah on his outer chamber door, Jewish law would allow it, as it’s not located at his personal residence.