Police are investigating after the remnants of Molotov cocktails were found at a synagogue and Jewish community centre in the Montreal suburb of Dollard-des-Ormeaux, Que., overnight Monday.
The Montreal police arson squad and hate crimes unit investigators are on the case and Jewish advocacy organizations are calling out what they say is a worrisome rise in antisemitism.
Investigators on the scene Tuesday morning found pieces of a glass bottle and charred markings on the front door of the synagogue, Congregation Beth Tikvah, where a small fire had burned.
No one was injured and the damage was minor, a Montreal police spokesperson said.
A second small fire ignited at the back door of the Federation CJA building on Roger-Pilon Street, across the street from the synagogue, a spokesperson for the Service de police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM) said.
Henry Topas, the Quebec regional director of B'nai Brith Canada and the cantor at Congregation Beth Tikvah, said when he and and other congregants arrived at the synagogue around 7:30 a.m. on Tuesday they noticed the glass and the damage from the fire.
He immediately suspected a hate crime.
"Antisemitism should not be on these shores," he said.
Since Oct. 7, Montreal police have tallied 48 reported hate crimes and hate incidents against the Jewish community and 17 against the Arab-Muslim community. In 2022, Montreal police tallied 72 hate crimes and incidents against all groups for the entire year.
Eta Yudin, the vice-president of the Quebec branch of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, said at an afternoon news conference that two Molotov cocktails in the span of one night constituted the worst single incident targeting Montreal's Jewish community since Oct. 7.
But even before that, she said the community had noticed an increase in antisemitism "not just in Quebec, but around the world."
Hateful discourse against Jews, including at some public demonstrations, has increased, she said.
"What starts with words leads to actions and we are seeing that now," she said. "We're calling on our fellow citizens to stand up and fight with us against antisemitism and hate."
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the firebombings "deeply disturbing" in a post on X, formerly Twitter.
"Antisemitism is completely unacceptable and must always be condemned — our government will continue to work with Jewish communities to combat this hatred," said Trudeau.