The son of a Holocaust survivor, Sam Sheraton thought of 1930s Germany when he first saw the antisemitic desecration of the historic Bagg Street Synagogue in Plateau-Mont-Royal.
Vandals spray-painted multiple black swastikas on the front of the 102-year-old synagogue over the weekend, including the glass on the front door.
NGO, StopAntisemitism shared the photo of the incident with their followers on Twitter. StopAntisemitism is a leading US-based organization exposing antisemitism.
For Sheraton, whose Hungarian-born mother survived the Auschwitz concentration camp, the defaced glass recalled Kristallnacht, a wave of anti-Jewish violence in 1938 that marked the beginning of the Holocaust.
“The Nazis went around breaking all the glass, and painting all the synagogues with swastikas, so it’s very, very symbolic,” said Sheraton, one of about 20 people who attend service at the synagogue.
The swastikas were discovered Monday morning by synagogue president Michael Kaplan.
“I interpreted it as being the work of a beanbag with a spray can. An antisemitic low-life, someone with not too much between the ears — nothing more than that,” he said.
Kaplan’s grandfather Baris owned the construction company that built the synagogue in 1921, converting a duplex that previously stood at Clark and Bagg streets., in what was then a large and thriving Jewish community.
He said people shouldn’t read too much into the vandalism, “certainly not without knowing more about who did it.”
Kaplan added: “I want to send the message that Montreal is a beautiful city in which to be Jewish. And my relationships with my neighbours, whether religious or not, have always been so warm and so cordial, including the neighbours in the Plateau.
“It was different when I was younger. The climate was much different. Antisemitism of a fairly coarse kind was fairly visible when I was a kid. After all, there were hotels in the Laurentians that advertised ‘no Jews, no dogs.’”
Investigators with the Montreal police hate-crimes unit were expected to meet Wednesday with synagogue officials.
B’nai Brith called on Mayor Valérie Plante to do more to combat antisemitism.
“While the congregation is small, the (Bagg Street) synagogue evokes Jewish history in Montreal and the attack on it is causing dismay in the community,” Marvin Rotrand, national director of B’nai Brith’s League for Human Rights, wrote in a letter to Plante and other members of city council.
In light of a rise in antisemitic incidents, Montreal must be more proactive, he said.