Weekend of hate puts Toronto Jews on edge

toronto | The Jewish community here is trying to rally after a rash of anti-Semitic incidents.

Unknown perpetrators broke seven stained-glass windows at the Pride of Israel Synagogue here and spray-painted swastikas and anti-Semitic messages at various locations along Bathurst Street. United Jewish Appeals signs in the city also were defaced and swastikas were painted on a clothing donation box.

The damage was discovered Saturday morning, March 20.

In a separate incident discovered early the following day, 22 cemetery tombstones were toppled in the nearby Bathurst-Lawn Jewish Cemetery.

“We had a weekend of hate in Toronto,” said Bernie Farber, executive director of the Ontario region of Canadian Jewish Congress, after inspecting the damage at the cemetery with police on Sunday morning, March 21.

The Jewish community is considering posting a reward, according to Farber, and a community rally was scheduled for Wednesday evening, March 24.

“We’re not intimidated but we’re certainly angry,” Farber said. “The community is on edge. We’ve faced adversities for countless generations. We’re a strong people. We’ll deal with this and we’ll do what we have to do to protect our community.”

The incidents took place only days after vandals spray-painted swastikas and hateful messages in a Jewish neighborhood in the Toronto suburb of Thornhill.

The incidents rekindled disturbing memories to many Holocaust survivors who attended a memorial service March 21 marking the 60th anniversary of the Holocaust in Hungary. “Anti-Semitism to me is like a cancer,” said Irving Roth, a 74-year-old survivor who attended the ceremony. “Once you have it, you have to be vigilant.’