Swastikas spray-painted on Ottawa synagogue
Ottawa Police are investigating three potential hate crime messages directed towards the Ottawa Jewish Community over the last few days.
The latest one happened overnight at the Machzikei Hadas synagogue in south east Ottawa. Swastikas were spray-painted on the door and anti-Semitic graffiti splashed over the brick walls.
The graffiti has now been wiped off but its message has left a mark on the people who attend this synagogue -- and those beyond who are sending their own messages of support.
It's the first thing Jonathan Stokes saw on his daily walk to open the synagogue this morning: swastikas on the doors and hateful anti-Semitic messages on the walls.
“It's upsetting, people do crazy things,” said Stokes, who attends the synagogue.
It is crazy but also criminal. The Ottawa Police Hate Crimes Unit is now involved, checking the synagogue's surveillance cameras before the perpetrator spray painted them at 12:34 this morning.
“This isn't just random graffiti vandalism,” says Rabbi Idan Scher, the synagogue’s rabbi, “these images are representative of the systematic annihilation of Jewish people and other people.”
Ottawa’s police chief Charles Bordeleau says they are working to find those responsible.
“This is disturbing, it's disgusting, cowardly, and it is hate,” Bordeleau said, “and it's not tolerated in our society and our community.”
This is the third incident in a matter of days. On Tuesday, similar symbols were sprayed on the door of a woman who runs a Jewish prayer centre in the Glebe. And police confirm they were called Sunday morning to a synagogue in Ottawa's west end.
Rabbi Reuven Bulka says despite similar occurrences in the United States, he did not want to draw any conclusions about the reasons behind it.
“It's ugly but I’d like to think in the bigger picture that it is one nut or one idiot or one crazy,” Dr. Bulka, the rabbi emeritus said, “and the greater community has been phenomenal in saying we're all outraged.”
In fact messages of support have come from all over.
From the Prime Minister, who tweeted:
"To the Canadian Jewish community: I stand with you. Our government denounces recent acts of anti-Semitism in the strong terms."
From Ontario’s Attorney General, Yasir Naqvi, “That's not my Ottawa. These acts of hate do not reflect our city, our province our country.”
From the Archbishop of Ottawa, Reverend Terrence Prendergast, “In their name I offer you, Rabbi Scher and all your congregants our solidarity in condemning this action and others like it which trouble the hearts of all people of good will.
- Read the letter from the Achdiocese of Ottawa on the Archbishop expressing solidarity with vandalized synagogue congregation.
And from the Council of Imams of Ottawa, a show of solidarity.
“When one segment of the community is attacked, that is felt all across the spectrum,” Imam Sikander Hashmi said in an interview.
It has been felt but congregants like Odelia Scher say it has made them stronger.
“The graffiti is going to be erased, in a couple of hours, that's going to be power washed away,” Scher said, as she stood outside the synagogue, “but our spirits are not going to be power washed away.”
Rabbi Bulka said the Machzikei Hadas synagogue on Virginia Drive in Alta Vista is having a community solidarity and expression of thanks this Saturday at 11 a.m. The community is invited.
- Read the full Statement from CEO of the Jewish Federation of Ottawa on Anti-Semitic Vandalism in Ottawa