Rabbi says reaction to hate crime should be measured
Published Friday, August 5, 2011 6:23PM EDT
A Toronto rabbi whose Bayview Avenue synagogue was the target of two pieces of anti-Semitic graffiti says it's important to take a measured response to the hate crime.
His remarks come as Toronto Police are investigating the incident, which was reported on Thursday evening when staff members at Beth Tikvah Synagogue found a red-and-black swastika stenciled onto the exterior of their building accompanied by the phrase "Islam will rule."
Rabbi Jarrod Grover told CTV Toronto on Friday that the "message does not represent anything greater than what some guy or group of people wrote on a wall."
Still, many community and synagogue members are in shock.
"It's a personal thing because you don't expect it here in Toronto at this time," Dorothy Adams told CTV Toronto.
She said the defacement is particularly hurtful in a city as diverse as Toronto. Her sentiments were echoed by Edward Fisch, a synagogue member who lost most of his family during the Holocaust.
"It's really, really hurtful. I don't know the kind of people that would do something like this," he told CTV Toronto.
A volunteer who helped removed the graffiti on Friday said the hate crime reminded him of racism he encountered growing up.
"When I was young, growing up in school, we use to have trouble with people being racist towards us, so I feel for others when they (face) this type of behaviour," James Thom told CTV Toronto.
The graffiti comes a few days before one of the most solemn times in the Jewish calendar. During Tisha B'Av, synagogue members mourn the destruction of the Jewish temples in Jeruasalem.
Police are currently analyzing the handwriting and stencil used in the graffiti in hopes of finding the person or group responsible for the hate speech.
According to CTV's Nathalie Johnson, the building's closest security camera is pointed away from the graffiti and it is likely the vandals chose the site for that reason.
B'nai Brith Canada, a Jewish advocacy organization, has been contacted to help with the investigation.
The group has set up a hotline to combat any further anti-Semitic activity. They're encouraging anyone who witnesses suspicious activity or hate speech to call them at 1-800-892-2624
With a report from CTV's Natalie Johnson.