Torah Scrolls Desecrated in Vandalism of Montreal Synagogue

June 3, 2020

According to the JTA, On Thursday, May 28th, it was discovered that vandals had broken into Congregation Sepharde Kol Yehudaa, an Orthodox Sephardic synagogue in the suburbs of Montreal, Canada.

Tallitot, tefillin and Torah scrolls were stuffed in toilets and thrown on the floor. A congregant discovered the desecration of the synagogue, which had been closed due to COVID-19, when he arrived to collect some items in advance of Shavuot. Local Jewish leaders are hoping that the vandalism is pursued as a hate crime.

Not knowing when exactly the crime occurred has made it difficult for investigators to find any perpetrators. The locally-elected parliamentarian, David Birnbaum, labeled the vandalism as a “disgusting, cowardly” act. Michael Mostyn, the CEO of B’nai Brith Canada, noted the particularly heinous nature of this act, taking place around Shavuot: the holiday that marks the giving of the Torah to the Jewish people. Mostyn stated that B’nai Brith has seen an overall uptick in anti-Semitism during the coronavirus pandemic, particularly through graffiti and discrimination of Jewish-owned businesses in Canada.

He suspects that the broader climate of anti-Semitism could have contributed to this particular act in Montreal. The small synagogue is located in a house in the Montreal suburb of Côte St. Luc. In addition to the destruction on the inside, anti-Semitic graffiti was found outside on the walls of the building. Even though Mostyn confirmed that the police had been notified, Montreal Police were unable to confirm or deny the report. Still, a police car was spotted outside the synagogue that day which suggests that some type of investigation may be underway.

Mostyn’s suggestion that this individual incident could be linked to a broader rise in anti-Semitic acts is backed up by the numbers. A subsidiary of B’nai Brith Canada, the League of Human Rights, measures anti-Semitic incident totals in Canada and saw an 8% increase in incidents from 2018 to 2019, with more than 2,000 acts taking place. Ralph Amar, the congregant who discovered the vandalism, spoke of the frustration he felt when first entering the building, describing the scene as “carnage”. What remains to be seen, though, is whether the perpetrators of the anti-Semitic vandalism in Montreal will be brought to justice.

Source: https://www.jta.org/quick-reads/prayer-shawls-stuffed-in-toilets-and-torah-scrolls-cut-up-in-vandalism-at-montreal-synagogue