Theft at synagogue brings faith groups together for World Religion Day

| January 14, 2010

A recent theft at a Belleville synagogue has spurred several local groups to form a coalition aimed at creating solidarity between faith groups across the region.

Dr. Aruna Alexander, the head of the United Nations Association Quinte Branch, said the alliance gave birth to a World Religion Day event at the Victoria based Sons of Jacob Synagogue. She said the event slated for Jan. 20, was brought to life through the partnership of the United Nations Association, War Child Canada and the local Baha'i and Jewish communities.

Alexander said she was spurred to action by an editorial in The Intelligencer, calling on the community to take action, after thieves stole a large television, along with a DVD and several bottle of liquor from Sons of Jacob overnight on Dec. 13. Alexander said it was disconcerting to discover this was the third time the Jewish place of worship had been robbed.

"All of us living in Belleville need to lift our voice," she said. "The image we want to keep of our community, is one that is positive and caring. You just can't read and sit back, you've got to act in appropriate ways."

Eleanor Jourard, a representative for Sons of Jacob, said replacing the television is secondary in comparison to the importance of ensuring the success of next week's gathering. She said this meeting has already spawned a string of ideas for similar gatherings in the near future.

"It's a wonderful opportunity to get together with all the other faith groups in town," she said. "This is something we really wanted to do for a very long time. Something good came out of bad."

She said while those responsible for the most recent robbery were not caught, police did nab two teenagers in connection with the first two of the three incidents.

"This was not a hate crime," she said. "This was a theft, clear and simple."

Mary VanderDussen, from the Baha'i Community of Stirling-Rawdon said there will be displays and video presentations about religious unity at next week's 7 p.m. event. She said the program will be geared toward fellowship and the floor will be open for discussion. Refreshment will be provided. Those in attendance can make a tangible donation, if they choose to do so. The money raised will be shared between the synagogue and the Children of War Foundation.

Christy Wagner, a representative for War Child Canada, jumped on board to lend the advocacy abilities of War Child, an organization that provides humanitarian assistance to war affected children. Wagner called the theft at Sons of Jacob "absolutely disgusting" act that is an "embarrassment to our community." She said World Religion Day provide the ideal platform to rally the community in an effort to form a more tight-knit unit.

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Category: Synagogue/Jewish Security