Toronto leaders rally at Jewish school where shots were fired over Shabbat
Bais Chaya Mushka, a Jewish girls’ school in Toronto, was hit with gunfire on Shabbat, May 25, 2024. Photo: Screenshot

By Jackie Hajdenberg
May 29, 2024

(JTA) — Toronto’s mayor and other local officials joined a rally at a local Jewish girls’ school that was hit by gunfire on Shabbat.

No one was at Bais Chaya Mushka, which is part of a network of Chabad-Lubavitch schools, at 5 a.m. Saturday morning when two masked suspects emerged from a dark vehicle and fired multiple shots at the building. The gunfire left a bullet hole in a window of the building and caused other minor damage, but no injuries were reported.

On Monday, as Bais Chaya Mushka was open for classes, a crowd turned out for a rally in support of the school. 

“It was pretty shocking, it was something that’s totally unexpected,” Rabbi Yaakov Vidal, principal of Chaya Mushka Elementary, told the Canadian Jewish News. “But we’ve got to move forward and make sure the kids can come back to school.”

He added, “Parents are concerned, but we’re grateful to have all the security we have here, the police force, and the reassurance that they’re going to be here with us until safety is restored.”

Representatives from the school did not respond to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency’s request for comment.

Toronto Mayor Olivia Chow attended the Monday rally along with a number of other provincial and city officials as well as Jewish leaders. Chow called the shooting a “despicable, antisemitic act,” adding, “it was a disgusting attempt to intimidate the community, to fill people with fear.”

Law enforcement are investigating the shooting, including hate crimes investigators, the Toronto Police Service said in a statement. Police have not yet determined whether the incident is a hate crime. Police released video of the suspects’ vehicle, and said there would be “an increased police presence in the area, as well as outside of schools and synagogues.”

Bais Chaya Mushka had recently spent roughly $180,000, partially from government grants, on security upgrades including armored glass, according to CJN.

The shooting follows a reported rise in antisemitic incidents in Canada according to an audit published last month by Jewish advocacy group B’nai Brith Canada. In November, shots were fired at two Orthodox Jewish schools in Montreal

In March, a Jewish film festival in Hamilton, Ontario was postponed due to fears of antisemitism, despite objections from the local Jewish federation. On Sunday, at Montreal’s McGill University, activists hanged an effigy of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wearing a black-and-white horizontal stripe uniform above the main campus gates. 

“As Jews, we know that violent words lead to violent actions,” Daniel Held, the Toronto Jewish federation’s chief program officer said at the rally. “This weekend’s shooting was the predictable consequence of seven months of Jews and Israelis being dehumanized, being discriminated against, being demonized right here in the city.”

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