A Winnipeg synagogue has been targeted with antisemitic graffiti. A swastika was found Thursday night spray-painted in yellow on a garbage bin outside of Chevra Mishnayes Synagogue, said Laya Kneller, who contacted police and B’nai Brith to report the vandalism Friday morning.
The Winnipeg Police Service confirmed the incident.
Finding the racist symbol was “horrible,” Kneller said, adding she has attended Chevra Mishnayes Synagogue (700 Jefferson Ave.) her whole life. “It’s a generational thing, multi-generations of our family has been going.”
It is also not the first time the synagogue has been a target in recent years, according to Kneller.
“We’ve actually had (confrontational) people walk in who had to have been escorted out,” she said, recalling other incidents of a swastika carved into the front door, and people putting “pretty unkind things in our mail, anti-Semitic remarks on the front of our mail.”
The Chevra Mishnayes Synagogue has been in its current building since the 1960s, but has been in operation since 1908.
Ran Ukashi attended the synagogue in the past, and now works as the B’nai Brith national director of the league for human rights. He said the Winnipeg centre is “not unfamiliar” with racist targeting.
“This particular synagogue has been targeted several times in the past over the years, actually, with similar kinds of vandalism,” he said. Such anti-Semitic incidents, while less common than in larger cities such as Toronto or Montreal, are still “not an uncommon phenomenon” in Winnipeg, Ukashi said.
In its most recent numbers, Stats Canada reported while there was a drop in hate crimes in more populous provinces in 2018, cases reported to police had risen in the Prairies, citing, in part, the targeting of Jewish populations.
Marshall Kneller, president of the synagogue (and Laya’s husband), said plans to set up additional security at Chevra Mishnayes have been “in motion” for a while.
“At the board level, we are looking at what we can do for security purposes,” he said. “Not specifically this particular vandalism, but we’re looking at overall security in general, whether it be cameras or that type of thing.”