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February 5, 2017 8:02 am

Canadian Rabbi Leads ‘Ring of Peace’ Around Toronto Mosques to Express Solidarity With Quebec Shooting Victims

avatar by Shiryn Ghermezian

The aftermath of the Quebec mosque attack. Photo: CNN/Screenshot.

The aftermath of the Quebec mosque attack. Photo: CNN/Screenshot.

Inspired by a Muslim-led initiative in Europe, a Toronto rabbi called on people of all faiths to form a “ring of peace” around local mosques on Friday, to express solidarity with the victims of last week’s shooting at an Islamic house of worship in Quebec, which left six dead and 19 others wounded, The Canadian Jewish News (CJN) reported.

Hundreds responded to the appeal by Rabbi Yael Splansky of the Holy Blossom Temple to circle seven mosques in Ontario’s capital — the idea for which she said she got from a similar effort two years ago. After the deadly terrorist attacks on a kosher market in Paris and a synagogue in Copenhagen, a group of Muslims formed a “ring of peace” around Norway’s Oslo Synagogue.

Splansky told CJN that following the mosque attack in Quebec, she wrote to the Toronto Board of Rabbis (TBR) asking for support in emulating the “ring of peace” gesture — and was met by a positive response. One rabbi, for example, in an email to congregants, wrote, “A hate-inspired attack on peaceful worship is an attack on all of us. We’re going to be there, to demonstrate solidarity at a difficult time for them…The best tool to combat hatred is to show love and unity.” Another local rabbi said the message she hopes to convey to the Muslim community is, “We welcome you. We’re part of the neighborhood. We stand with you.”

Splansky explained, “Jews can’t sit still. We put deed over creed. We’re all about taking a  leap of action. When it comes to the mitzvah [commandment] of welcoming the stranger and loving our neighbors as ourselves, we do it through deeds. That’s our impulse.”

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TBR President Rabbi Landsberg added that the Jewish community united to support Muslims because “there is a sense that fellow citizens were under risk for who they are. That’s why this action is resonating among Jews.”

Osman Khan, general secretary of Imdadul Islamic Centre in Toronto, called the endeavor “a wonderful thing,” adding, “We appreciate all the faith groups reaching out to us and expressing their sentiments.”

The mass shooting at the Islamic Cultural Centre of Quebec City — committed by a lone gunman who opened fire on worshipers — took place on the evening of Sunday, Jan. 29, just before 8:00 pm, after the end of evening prayers. The suspect, 27-year-old Alexandre Bissonette — who had posted anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim comments on social media, has been charged with six counts of murder in what Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called a terrorist attack.

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