Mayor, Local Cops in Canadian City to Attend Yom Kippur Services in Solidarity With Jewish Community After Antisemitic Outrage
Senior local officials in the Canadian city of Hamilton are attending Kol Nidrei services on Tuesday night at the Beth Jacob Synagogue as a gesture of solidarity after the building was defaced with antisemitic graffiti over the weekend.
Those attending the synagogue at the start of Yom Kippur — the holiest day in the Jewish calendar — include Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger, local councillors, police officers and a pastor from a neighboring church, Canadian website Global News reported.
Hillel Lavery-Yisraeli, who serves as rabbi of Beth Jacob, said he was alerted to the graffiti by congregants who arrived for Shabbat morning services on Saturday. Written in bright pink chalk on the pavement at the entrance to the synagogue was the word “Jews,” crossed out within a circle, as well as a swastika.
Police arrived on the scene to document the evidence and while investigating, officers found several more instances of antisemitic graffiti around the synagogue, including on the sidewalk.
“It’s really disturbing,” Rabbi Lavery-Yisraeli was reported as saying. “We have Holocaust survivors in our congregation who recognize that symbol and had to see it again in their later years.”
The incident came immediately after a conference to address hate in Hamilton was held at the McMaster Innovation Park on Friday and right before Saturday’s Gandhi Peace Festival in front of Hamilton City Hall, Global News reported.
Lavery-Yisraeli, who was a facilitator during the conference on Friday, said he could not be entirely sure whether the timing of the graffiti was related to those events, or whether it was deliberately done ahead of Yom Kippur.
“We don’t want to be hidden,” said Lavery-Yisraeli. “You can see our synagogue from the street and we’re proud to be here. We’re proud to be part of Hamilton and part of this multicultural city.”