Fire set at entrance to Vancouver synagogue

Rabbi Andrew Rosenblatt at the fire damaged Schara Tzedeck synagogue in Vancouver.

(AJNews) – On May 30 at 9:30 pm, a fire was intentionally ignited at the front doors of Schara Tzedeck synagogue in Vancouver. According to synagogue leaders and Jewish Federation of  Greater Vancouver, no one was injured and damage to the building was minor, but very concerning. The incident has led to an increase in police presence in Jewish community institutions across Greater Vancouver.

In a statement to the community, federation and synagogue leaders said, “This deliberate act of hate was an attempt to intimidate our Jewish community. But we refuse to be intimidated or to hide. Our community is resilient, and we are proud to be an important part of the multicultural fabric of our city, our province and our country.”

“I was horrified to receive a frantic call from a community member that there was a fire burning at the entrance to the building,” said Aron Csaplaros, B’nai Brith Canada’s British Columbia Regional Manager. “This is a serious and dangerous escalation of antisemitic activity in Vancouver, and it is outrageous and repugnant.”

The Vancouver Jewish community expressed appreciation to the Vancouver Police Department for their response to the incident.

This latest incident of targeting Jewish institutions across Canada comes just days after Jewish schools in both Montreal and Toronto were targeted with gunfire, and a month after Charlotte Kates, the Vancouver-based international coordinator of Samidoun, was arrested for hate-speech related charges after glorifying the Oct. 7 massacre in front of a large crowd in the city.

“To see three violent attacks against Canada’s Jewish community in less than a week is unfathomable and extremely sobering for Jews across the country. Historically, we know that unchecked, hateful rhetoric often escalates into violence, and this is exactly what we are now experiencing in Canada,” stated Friends if Simon Weisenthal Centre CEO Michael Levitt.

“The question is not if but when these attacks will result in outright tragedy. It’s imperative that all levels of government take immediate action to protect Jewish Canadians. This is a critical moment that demands comprehensive security measures and unwavering support to ensure the safety of our communities across the country. When is enough, enough?”

On May 27, police discovered that at least one bullet had hit the Belz Yeshiva Ketana at the Young Israel of Montreal synagogue in the city’s Cote-des-Neiges—Notre-Dame-de-Grace neighborhood. They believe the shooting at the Orthodox school occurred before Wednesday, The Montreal Gazette reported.

The shooting occured less than a week after two masked suspects emerged from a vehicle early in the morning on May 25 and fired multiple shots at Bais Chaya Mushka, a Chabad girls’ school in Toronto.

No one was injured in the shootings, just as no one was injured in the Vancouver fire, but Canadian Jewish leaders and political officials said the pattern was alarming.

“We have had enough. Yet another Jewish school was shot at in the middle of the night – in Canada,” said a statement jointly released Thursday by Montreal’s Federation-CJA and Canada’s Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs on May 28. “Thankfully no one was inside the building, but this violent hatred must no longer be tolerated.”

On May 28, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau joined municipal and provincial figures in condemning the attacks on the schools.

“Disgusted that another Jewish school has been the target of a shooting,” he said on X. “Relieved that no one was hurt, but I’m thinking of the parents and community members … who must be incredibly shaken. This is antisemitism, plain and simple — and we will not let it win.”

With files from JTA.

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