Montreal Chabad center targeted by antisemitic neighbor

The city has seen several hate crimes aimed at Jewish institutions over the last year, with antisemitic acts rising to record levels across the country.

 By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

A Canadian Chabad center has been suffering for years from threats and acts of vandalism by an antisemitic neighbor, Jewish news service COLlive.com reported Thursday.

The David and Eda Schottenstein Chabad Russian Community Center in Montreal is an all-in-one Jewish package, as it houses a synagogue and boys’ school, and runs youth and adult programming and food and clothing distributions. It also has Mohammed Farag living next door for the last five years, said Rabbi Yisroel Sirota, whose mission seems to be to “get the Jews out of here,” he said.

“He has since vandalized our property, broken our surveillance system, threatening us despite numerous attempts on our end to resolve conflict peacefully,” the rabbi said.

“This past Sukkos he destroyed our newly built Sukkah on the eve of the {September] holiday,” Sirota charged, “depriving over 200 people from celebrating Sukkos for the first time in many years.”

It was unclear whether the police have been called in to investigate the alleged perpetrator’s actions.

The Jewish community in Montreal has been hit several times with antisemitic vandalism over the past year. In January, private guards caught a 28-year-old man painting swastikas on the city’s largest synagogue. Found with a gasoline can in hand, he said he had also planned to set it on fire.

The crimes peaked in May and June, during and in the immediate aftermath of Israel’s operation against Hamas, when the terrorist organization launched over 4,000 missiles at Israel, prompting its retaliation in airstrikes in the Gaza Strip.

In the beginning of June, a synagogue closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic was vandalized. Torah scrolls were cut into pieces and thrown on the floor, and prayer shawls and phylacteries were dumped into the toilets, all accompanied by antisemitic graffiti.

In the middle of the month, a culprit or culprits threw a rock one night through the glass front door of a kosher restaurant, shattering it, and then tried to start a fire inside. Two weeks later, the same thing happened to a kosher bakery in the same strip mall. The police did not rush to call them hate crimes since no antisemitic graffiti or messages were left at the scene, but B’nai B’rith Canada had no qualms, citing the fact that no money or valuables were taken, and that other, non-kosher eateries at the mall were left alone.

According to the Jewish organization’s records, antisemitism in Canada has risen for five straight years, with a record 2,610 acts reported in 2020. While the vast majority were harassment cases, there were 118 acts of vandalism and nine physical assaults. Most of them took place in Ontario and Quebec, said its report, where major Jewish populations live in the cities of Toronto and Montreal, respectively.