Rabbi feels 'trembling worry' after Toronto synagogue vandalized with antisemitic graffiti

·2 min read
Rabbi Aaron Flanzraich in front of the Beth Sholom Synagogue, which was vandalized with antisemitic graffiti on Wednesday. (Michael Cole/CBC - image credit)
Rabbi Aaron Flanzraich in front of the Beth Sholom Synagogue, which was vandalized with antisemitic graffiti on Wednesday. (Michael Cole/CBC - image credit)

When Aaron Flanzraich saw a swastika on the wall of the synagogue where he has been the rabbi for 25 years, he says he wasn't surprised but felt a "trembling worry" for future attacks.

"It wasn't just an attack against the Jewish community of Toronto, but every person who calls the city their home and every Canadian who calls this country their home, it is an attack against them," Flanzraich said.

Flanzraich spoke to CBC News after a man spray painted the antisemitic graffiti on Wednesday at the Beth Sholom Synagogue in the Eglinton Avenue West and Winnett Avenue area, police say.

The incident is being treated as a suspected hate-motivated offence, according to police.

"We should all feel the trembling worry of what may come next. So when I approached the building and saw those symbols, I felt the commonality and worry that every person in this country should rightly share as well."

Flanzraich says it's important for people to take a stand against these types of attacks and to remind others that "hatred in any of its forms, stereotypes in any of their forms is unacceptable."

Police have released a surveillance camera image of the suspect involved in the incident and are asking the public for help to identify him.

The suspect is 5'8", skinny build, wearing blue jeans, dark t-shirt, baseball cap, black running shoes and black backpack, according to police.

 Toronto Police Service
Toronto Police Service

'No place for antisemitism' in Canada

The Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies said in a press release that there has "been a wave of antisemitic vandalism" in the GTA in the last 24 hours, with antisemitic graffiti also found on a school and a downtown bus shelter.

"It's extremely disturbing to see such anti-Jewish hate be spread across the Greater Toronto Area," wrote the group's president and CEO Michael Levitt in a statement.

The Ontario NDP is also condemning the recent vandalism.

"There is no place for antisemitism and white supremacy in our city, our province, or our country. Governments must act urgently to stamp out antisemitism and white supremacy wherever they occur. Meaningful action is long overdue," the party wrote in a statement.

The incidents also come after swastikas appeared on the election signs of two Jewish Liberal candidates in Montreal earlier this week.

Anyone with information on the synagogue incident is asked to contact police at 416-808-1300, Crime Stoppers anonymously at 416-222-TIPS (8477) or online at www.222tips.com.

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