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Community unites to support vandalized Fredericton synagogue

Over 100 people gathered to show their support for the Sgoolai Israel Synagogue. (Frédéric Cammarano/Radio-Canada - image credit)
Over 100 people gathered to show their support for the Sgoolai Israel Synagogue. (Frédéric Cammarano/Radio-Canada - image credit)

The broken windows were fixed and the healing had begun by the time people started to gather for a vigil outside the Sgoolai Israel Synagogue in downtown Fredericton on Sunday afternoon.

People gathered to show their support for the community, after the congregation arrived to celebrate Sabbath on Saturday only to find the building's front windows shattered.

"We got a lot of great words yesterday and a lot of great action today," said Daniel Chippin, who sits on the board of directors at the synagogue.

Over 100 people showed up to show their support for the community, and a GoFundMe was set up for the synagogue.

The vandalism happened on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, and on the heels of the top court for the United Nations ordering Israel to take measures to prevent and punish direct incitement of genocide in its war in Gaza.

Broken glass covers the front steps of the Sgoolai Israel Synagogue in Fredericton.
Broken glass covers the front steps of the Sgoolai Israel Synagogue in Fredericton.

Broken glass covers the front steps of the Sgoolai Israel Synagogue in Fredericton. (Jeane Armstrong/CBC)

People supporting Palestinians and Israelis have clashed at events, but on Sunday, a group from Fredericton Palestine Solidarity attended to show support.

"Antisemitism has been a problem in North America for as long as there's been a Canada, and we hate to see it in our community and we hope to be able to show up for our friends and neighbours when they experience this," said Angus Fletcher, who spoke for the group.

Rise in antisemitism

There has been a rise of both antisemitism and Islamophobia since the war broke out between Israel and Hamas in October, both across Canada and the rest of the world.

Ayten Kranet, who attends the synagogue, was shocked that someone would do this.

She used to live in the United Kingdom, but moved to Fredericton after her daughter experienced antisemitism there. She hoped her new community would be safe.

"I hope antisemitism will stop, and that people will be more mindful and more educated and understand what's going on," said Kranet.

A group from Fredericton Palestine Solidarity attended the event to show support and stand against hate.
A group from Fredericton Palestine Solidarity attended the event to show support and stand against hate.

A group from Fredericton Palestine Solidarity attended the event to stand against hate. (Lars Schwarz/CBC)

She never used to feel unsafe in Fredericton, but she says that has changed. She doesn't know if she will stay in Fredericton.

"We have to be more vigilant," said Kranet.

Kranet said it was good to see how many people showed up to support the Jewish community on Sunday.

"I think we need that and I think we need more people to see us and show their support," said Kranet.

Stepping up security

Chippin said he didn't expect an act of vandalism like this to happen in Fredericton, but he doesn't think that it reflects the views of the community.

"I think there is just one or two people who are out to do this stuff, and we have a large, very large majority of people who are supportive of us," said Chippin.

The Sgoolai Israel Synagogue, which was found vandalized on Saturday, has since been repaired.
The Sgoolai Israel Synagogue, which was found vandalized on Saturday, has since been repaired.

The synagogue has been repaired. (Frédéric Cammarano/Radio Canada)

The synagogue plans to add security cameras to the building.

"We have been a little lax on security because we didn't think it was coming to a place like Fredericton, but I think we will start to take that a little more seriously now."

As of Sunday, the Fredericton police did not have an update into their investigation into whether the vandalism was the result of targeted hostility.