MONTREAL — During the March 25-26 weekend an antisemitic attack on the Bagg Street Shul took place here. Perpetrators spray-painted multiple black swastikas on the front of the 102-year-old synagogue, including on the glass on the front door. The swastikas were discovered the morning of March 27 by synagogue President Michael Kaplan.
Sam Sheraton, whose Hungarian-born mother survived the Auschwitz concentration camp, told the Montreal Gazette, “The Nazis went around breaking all the glass and painting all the synagogues with swastikas, so it’s very, very symbolic.”
The vandalism was condemned by Jewish organizations, with B’nai Brith calling it “a clear act of antisemitism.” They and other groups said they are working with police to ensure the security of the community and that the perpetrators are prosecuted.
Marvin Rotrand, national director of B’nai Brith’s League for Human Rights, noted that the number of antisemitic incidents recorded in Quebec in 2021 increased by 20% over the previous year, with the majority occurring in Montreal.
On March 29, Rotrand sent a letter to Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante and the City Council urging the administration to be “more proactive in combating antisemitism.” B’nai Brith urged Plante to mark Yom Hashoah, also known as Holocaust Remembrance Day, April 17-18. The commemoration honors the 6 million Jews killed by the Nazis. Plante has condemned the Montreal attack.
On April 1 Felix Vincent Ardea, Communist League candidate in the federal riding of Notre-Dame-de-Grace-Westmount, visited the synagogue to extend solidarity and deliver a statement the CL campaign issued March 30 entitled, “Jew-hatred is a deadly threat to working people. Protest antisemitic attack on the Bagg Street Shul in Montreal.”
Shul President Kaplan warmly received the CL candidate. Kaplan said in his opinion the attack “was an isolated incident; our relations with the community here in Montreal are very good.”
“In today’s world of deepening capitalist crisis, we see the contradictory reality that while antisemitism among working people is at a low ebb, individual assaults on Jews are on the rise,” Vincent Ardea said. “Every act of Jew-hatred must be answered and combated, no matter where it comes from.”
He said his campaign sees the attack as a working-class issue. “The unions need to speak out, organize and act to defend Jews from every antisemitic assault,” the League’s statement says.
Kaplan gave the CL candidate a tour and briefly explained the history of the synagogue, recognized as a heritage site both by the city of Montreal and Quebec government.