Montreal area synagogue has windows smashed

| September 23, 2009

MONTREAL – Police still have no suspects in an incident which occurred the week before Rosh Hashanah in the Montreal borough of St. Laurent when vandals smashed open two stained glass windows of the Petah Tikvah Congregation.

B’nai Brith Canada’s Quebec office was called immediately and continues to communicate with police in the hope that the perpetrators will be caught.

Petah Tikvah is a synagogue frequented by the French speaking Sephardic community and boasts 300 family memberships. It is only a few blocks from the United Talmud Torah Beutel Campus, which was firebombed nearly six years ago.

Simone Felece, the synagogue’s executive director, told the Jewish Tribune that no such incident has ever occurred here since the congregation opened in 1975. She said the vandalism occurred during the evening of Monday, Sept. 14. The rabbi saw the damage when he arrived for services the following morning.

Felece has been in touch with the insurance company.

“We are not just talking about regular windows,” she stated. “These windows cost about $30,000 and they are specially made. It is so sad to see what happened. We are all very disturbed and frightened as to whom would do such a thing.”

Felece said the only consolation is that these windows do not lead indoors, so it does not affect people praying in the sanctuary.

“But it is sad to look at,” she acknowledged. “I will not draw too many conclusions, but this appears to be an antisemitic act.”

Sharon Bitensky, regional director of B’nai Brith Canada, was in touch with other synagogues in the area to alert them about the situation and to request extra vigilance during the high holidays. Petah Tikvah immediately hired security personnel to watch the building daily.

Moise Moghrabi, Quebec chair of B’nai Brith’s League for Human Rights, is not taking all of this lightly.

“These latest antisemitic acts can no longer be labelled random or isolated incidences,” Moghrabi said. “Unfortunately without any clear and vocal public condemnation and real deterrent, the perpetrators are becoming more aggressive in their offences, moving from randomly spray-painting swastikas to directly and violently targetting synagogues and places of religious significance to Jews in different areas in Montreal.

“It is clear that these perpetrators have increased their level of virulence and violence and their purpose is to instill fear and a sense of vulnerability in the Montreal Jewish community particularly in this holiday period. Therefore, we must all be very vigilant and refuse to be intimidated. Montrealers should be outraged that this is happening in our city and we should all insist that our government officials at all levels denounce, without hesitation and in the strongest terms, these cowardly acts and that the resources necessary be dedicated to finding and properly punishing the perpetrators to put a stop to this ongoing aggression against the Montreal Jewish community.”

Rabbi Marc Jablon of neighbouring Beth Ora Congregation was also deeply disturbed.

“It is painful to see this occur,” he remarked. “Our synagogue knows how this feels. We have had windows broken in the past. This certainly appears to be more than simple vandalism.”


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Category: Synagogue/Jewish Security

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