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London police probe after rock smashes synagogue window

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A London synagogue is calling on police to “thoroughly investigate” after a rock was thrown through the window at the Jewish house of worship.

Beth Tefilah, an orthodox synagogue at 1210 Adelaide St., denounced the recent act of vandalism and urged police to hold the culprits responsible.

“This attack on a place of worship is deeply troubling and an affront to the Canadian values of respect and community,” Beth Tefilah officials said in a statement Friday.

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“This incident is not isolated; it follows a disturbing trend of rising anti-Semitism and vandalism against synagogues across Canada. Such acts of hate and intolerance have no place in our society.”

London police are aware of the incident and have launched an investigation, a police spokesperson said.

“It’s in the very early stages,” acting Sgt. Sandasha Bough said when asked whether it’s being investigated as a possible hate-motivated crime.

The broken window was reported Friday morning, police said. A rock was found on the ground near the broken window. Damage is estimated at $150.

London police ask anyone with information about the incident to contact them at 519-661-5670.

Beth Tefilah Rabbi Eliezer Gurkow declined comment Friday.

Rich Robertson, director of research and advocacy at B’nai Brith Canada, a Jewish human rights organization, condemned the attack.

“The repeated attacks including the one now under investigation in London against synagogues and other Jewish institutions are part of an extremely troubling trend in escalation that we have seen since Oct. 7,” he said.

“We’re looking for leadership at all levels by government to take immediate action to ensure that Canadian communities remain safe spaces for their Jewish citizens. We encourage the police in London to investigate this as a hate-motivated occurrence.”

Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Jewish human rights and social advocacy organization, also denounced the vandalism at Beth Tefilah.

“This is not the Canada we know and love. Our public leaders vow ‘never again,’ yet attacks on Jewish institutions happen again and again,” the group said in post on X. 

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The vandalism at the synagogue comes less than a week after an alleged hate-motivated arson at a northwest London home that drew condemnation from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Emergency crews responded Saturday around 10:40 p.m. to a fire at a house on Wateroak Drive, northeast of Fanshawe Park and Hyde Park roads, where signs supporting Palestinians and the Afzaal family had been stolen and vandalized one hour earlier and on several other occasions dating back to early May, police said.

Investigators are treating the arson as a possible hate-motivated crime and believe the same suspect who set the fire stole the signs. Police released a photo of the suspect – a white man between 30 and 50, with a medium to heavy build – but no arrests had been made in the case as of Friday.

Hate crimes jumped by nearly 40 per cent in London last year, with the Israel-Hamas war cited as a contributing factor, according to a recent report to the city’s police board.

Members of the Jewish community were the fourth-most targeted group, with 26 occurrences – a figure that includes both hate crimes and incidents that are hate-motivated but aren’t considered criminal offences – reported in 2023. Half of those incidents happened after the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel that sparked conflict in Gaza, statistics show.

“It is crucial that we stand united against hate and work towards fostering a community where everyone feels safe and respected,” Beth Tefilah officials said.

– with files from Free Press reporter Heather Rivers

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