Montreal Jewish School Targeted in String of Hate Crimes

A police cruiser is parked outside the Yeshiva Gedola, a Jewish school, in Montreal's Côte-des-Neiges–Notre-Dame-de-Grâce borough, on Thursday, Nov. 9, 2023. (Olivia O'Malley/CTV News)

A string of gunfire incidents at Jewish institutions in Montreal raises concerns of escalating anti-Semitic violence

The Yeshiva Gedola school, located in Montreal’s Côte-des-Neiges neighbourhood, has been the target of repeated gunfire incidents, marking an alarming rise in hate crimes against the Jewish community in the city. This latest attack on Sunday is the second against the school in four days and part of a week-long series of antisemitic incidents.

When officers arrived at Yeshiva Gedola school on Sunday, they found bullet impact marks on the building and shell casings on the ground nearby. (Sarah Leavitt/CBC)

Repeated Gunfire Incidents

Early Sunday morning, police responded to 911 calls about gunshots near Yeshiva Gedola on Deacon Road. Bullet impact marks and shell casings were discovered at the scene. Witnesses reported a vehicle fleeing the area. Fortunately, no injuries were reported as the building was empty at the time of the shooting.

This incident follows a similar attack last Thursday when both Yeshiva Gedola and United Talmud Torahs of Montreal Inc. were struck by gunfire. Additionally, earlier in the week, a synagogue and a Jewish community centre in West Island were targeted with Molotov cocktails.

Yeshiva Gedola of Montreal, a Jewish school located in the city’s Côte-des-Neiges neighbourhood, was once again targeted by gunfire overnight. (Mathieu Wagner/Radio-Canada)

Community and Political Response

The Jewish community has expressed deep concern and outrage over these attacks. Lionel Perez, a spokesperson for Yeshiva Gedola, described the latest incident as a “terrorist attack,” emphasizing the community’s resilience and calling for increased police protection.

Mayor Valérie Plante, speaking at a press briefing, emphasized that Montreal must remain a city of peace, stating, “The Jewish community in Montreal is currently under attack… An anti-semitic act like this has no place in Montreal.”

Quebec Premier François Legault expressed solidarity with the Jewish community, asserting that “every effort will be made to find and punish the culprits.” He emphasized the peaceful nature of the Quebec nation and the importance of not importing hatred and violence.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, although yet to make an official statement, shared his horror and condemnation of the violence through a repost from MP Karin Gould.

Rising Tensions and Hate Crimes

The recent events come amidst heightened tensions in Montreal, correlated with the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas in the Middle East. Montreal police have tallied 73 reported hate crimes against the Jewish community and 25 against the Arab-Muslim community from Oct. 7 to Nov. 7. In comparison, last year saw a total of 72 hate crimes and incidents against all groups.

Police search an area near the Yeshiva Gedolah Jewish school after shots were fired at the school in Montreal, Sunday, Nov. 12, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

Calls for Action

Michael Mostyn, CEO of B’nai Brith Canada, expressed dismay at the rise in antisemitism, calling for swift action by the Montreal police to ensure community safety. Mayer Feig, a member of the Council of Hasidic Jews of Quebec, echoed these sentiments, emphasizing the need for these acts of intimidation to cease.