Vandals broke into several Jewish-owned summer cottages in the Laurentians in recent days, defacing at least two of them with anti-Jewish hate messages and swastikas.
The Sûreté du Québec is investigating the break-ins in Val Morin, 90 kilometres northwest of Montreal, but could not confirm Sunday that anti-Jewish graffiti was present. No one was in the homes during the incidents.
Some break-ins occurred Thursday and others were reported Sunday, said SQ spokesperson Ingrid Asselin.
The vandals broke into about 15 of the 50 Jewish-owned homes in the area, said Pinkas Feferkorn, director of the Val Morin synagogue.
Feferkorn, who owns one of the targeted cottages and went to Val Morin Sunday to survey the damage, said most of the cottages that were broken into were vandalized.
Furniture was damaged, clothes and toys were thrown out windows and in one house, at least one of the vandals defecated on the floor, Feferkorn said.
Swastikas were spray-painted on the outside of one house. In another, swastikas were painted all over the interior, along with at least one phrase: “F--k Juif.”
Joel Weber, whose cottage was ransacked, said the vandals also apparently tried to start two fires – one in the middle of a street and another on a tarp covering a community swimming pool.
“We’re upset, we’re shocked,” Weber said. “But the SQ is giving it immediate and proper attention. They’ve been there all day.”
Weber was at a loss to explain what could have sparked the incidents.
“There’s a lot of anti-Jewish stuff in the media,” he said, referring to coverage of a dispute between Hassidic Jews and some non-Jewish neighbours in Outremont. “But it’s hard to know what was in (the vandals’) minds.”
In 2005, vandals broke into a Val Morin synagogue and desecrated 300 holy books.
In 2008, the municipality won a legal battle and stopped the Jewish community from using two chalets as a synagogue and school.
Since then, Jewish residents have been on better terms with non-Jewish neighbours, Feferkorn said.
“That’s why it’s such a shock – we come here two months a year and we don’t bother anybody.”
In nearby Val David, several suspicious fires were set in 2007, including some in a neighbourhood where about 50 Hasidic Jewish families own cottages. A year later, a Hasidic Jewish tourist was punched in the face as he walked to a synagogue in nearby Ste. Agathe. Montreal Gazette