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Montreal synagogue vandalism ‘one of the worst incidents in Canada,’ says B’nai Brith

A Montreal Police officer at the Sepharade Kol Yehouda synagogue in Côte Saint-Luc. Thursday May 28, 2020.
A Montreal Police officer at the Sepharade Kol Yehouda synagogue in Côte Saint-Luc. Thursday May 28, 2020. Jonah Aspler / Global News

The break-in at a small Montreal synagogue is being called an outrageous display of anti-Semitism and one of the worst incidents in Canada in recent years by B’nai Brith Canada, a Jewish rights advocacy group.

Torah scrolls were found on the floor and other religious items were stuffed in the toilets at the Congregation Sepharde Kol Yehudaa in Côte Saint-Luc, according to B’nai Brith’s’ CEO, Michael Mostyn.

Torah scrolls are considered extremely sacred in Judaism, to the extent that damaged scrolls are typically buried in a cemetery, rather than being disposed of in any other manner, the organization.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Quebec premier orders all synagogues to close amid COVID-19 concerns

“To desecrate the most sacred object we have in the Jewish faith is outrageous,” Mostyn told Global News.

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“It is quite rare we receive a report as disturbing as this.”

It is not clear when the incident happened. The synagogue had been closed because of the pandemic but according to the organization, a congregant had gone into the place of worship to collect some items ahead of the Jewish holiday Shavuot, which marks the time that the Jews were given the Torah on Mount Sinai.

“It’s doubly disturbing for the community,” Mostyn said.

Mostyn said the incident has been reported to Montreal Police. Police wouldn’t confirm or deny the report to Global News but a police car could be seen at the synagogue on Thursday afternoon.

Click to play video 'Rise in number of anti-Semitic incidents reported in Canada' Rise in number of anti-Semitic incidents reported in Canada
Rise in number of anti-Semitic incidents reported in Canada

“We hope it’s treated as a hate crime,” Mostyn said.

B’nai Brith says it’s seen a rise in anti-Semitism during the novel coronavirus pandemic as some conspiracy theories tie the Jewish community to the outbreak.

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“We’re not connecting this in any way to what happened in the synagogue because it’s up to the police to determine,” Mostyn said. “We do know there are elevated levels of anti-Semitism and it needs to be taken seriously.”

 

The scene at the Sepharade Kol Yehouda synagogue in Côte Saint-Luc. Thursday May 28, 2020.
The scene at the Sepharade Kol Yehouda synagogue in Côte Saint-Luc. Thursday May 28, 2020. Courtesy: B'nai Brith
The scene at the Sepharade Kol Yehouda synagogue in Côte Saint-Luc. Thursday May 28, 2020.
The scene at the Sepharade Kol Yehouda synagogue in Côte Saint-Luc. Thursday May 28, 2020.
The scene at the Sepharade Kol Yehouda synagogue in Côte Saint-Luc. Thursday May 28, 2020.
The scene at the Sepharade Kol Yehouda synagogue in Côte Saint-Luc. Thursday May 28, 2020.
The scene at the Congregation Sepharde Kol Yehudaa
The scene at the Congregation Sepharde Kol Yehudaa in Montreal. Thursday May 28, 2020. Courtesy B'nai Brith