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Toronto synagogues vandalized in ‘suspected hate-motivated offense’

The assailant threw rocks through the windows of two houses of worship before fleeing on a motorcycle.  

The Pride of Israel Synagogue in Toronto, Canada, suffered damage after attacked by vandals on June 30, 2024. Courtesy: B'nai Brith Canada.
The Pride of Israel Synagogue in Toronto, Canada, suffered damage after attacked by vandals on June 30, 2024. Courtesy: B'nai Brith Canada.

A vandal threw rocks through the windows of two synagogues in Toronto, Canada, early on Sunday morning. In both cases, the suspect fled on a motorcycle; police think the same person is responsible.

Local law authorities say the suspect is between 5′ 7″ and 5′ 10″. He wore a light-colored hoodie and a black helmet with a clear visor at the time of the incidents.

The first attack, just after 3 a.m., targeted the Pride of Israel Synagogue in North York.

Police received a call from a witness saying someone had thrown rocks through the synagogue’s windows, according to the CBC.

The second synagogue targeted was Kehillat Shaarei Torah. The North Toronto shul had been vandalized twice before: once on May 17 and again on April 19.

A man came by motorcycle and hurled rocks through the windows of two synagogues in Toronto, Canada, at around 3 a.m. on June 30, 2024. Courtesy: Toronto Police Service.

Police are treating the investigation as a “suspected hate-motivated offense.”

Carl Zeliger, Pride of Israel’s vice chairman, told B’nai Brith Canada that the vandalism “has to be viewed as an antisemitic act.”

B’nai Brith Canada said the vandalism is the latest of a string of antisemitic attacks targeting Jewish institutions in the country since the Hamas terrorist attacks in southern Israel on Oct. 7.

B’nai Brith said there were 18 attacks on Jewish schools and synagogues since early November, including shootings, firebombings, bomb threats and vandalism.

In its annual audit released in early May, B’nai Brith Canada reported that the number of antisemitic incidents more than doubled from 2022, leaping to 5,791 incidents from the previous record of 2,799 in 2021 (2022 saw a slight decrease to 2,769).

“The 5,791 incidents of antisemitism in 2023 captured by B’nai Brith Canada represent the worst year ever recorded in the history of our Audit,” Richard Robertson, B’nai Brith Canada’s director of research and advocacy, wrote in the report’s introduction.

“It is out of control, and must stop,” said Judy Foldes, chief operating officer for B’nai Brith Canada. “We implore police forces to monitor Jewish institutions closely and vigilantly during this troubling time for Jewish Canadians.”

Even as Justin Trudeau, the Canadian prime minister, condemns the antisemitism, his government has come under criticism for his treatment of Israel.

Most recently, Canada imposed sanctions on what it termed “perpetrators of extremist settler violence” in Judea and Samaria.

In March, Ottawa halted arms sales to the Jewish state and passed a motion urging the creation of Palestinian statehood.

In November, Trudeau accused Israel of killing civilians in Gaza.

“I urge the government of Israel to exercise maximum restraint … we’re hearing the testimonies of doctors, family members, survivors, kids who have lost their parents,” he said during a Nov. 14 press conference.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hit back at Trudeau, saying it’s “not Israel that is deliberately targeting civilians but Hamas that beheaded, burned and massacred civilians in the worst horrors perpetrated on Jews since the Holocaust.”

Others criticize Trudeau and his government for a far too tepid response to rising antisemitism, saying it has led to Canada’s spike in Jew-hatred.

Vivian Bercovici, Canada’s former ambassador to Israel, noted Trudeau’s half-hearted approach was apparent immediately following the Hamas assault and kidnappings on Oct. 7.

She wrote on Oct. 21: “It was well into Sunday, Oct. 8, before Canada’s prime minister released a statement. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau condemned the attacks but in much more careful and restrained language than did most Western leaders. Meanwhile, across Canada, there has been an alarming spike in hate crimes targeting Jews. In Toronto, word of mouth tells of many Jewish families removing mezuzot (a symbol that the home is inhabited by Jews) from their external door frames.”

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