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Fredericton synagogue vandalized on International Holocaust Remembrance Day


Shock and sadness in Fredericton Saturday after a local synagogue was vandalized.

In photos widely shared on social media, broken windows could be seen at the Sgoolai Israel Synagogue on Westmorland Street.

The windows were smashed sometime late Friday night or early Saturday morning.

Daniel Chippin, a member of the synagogue’s board of directors, says he the incident has left him brokenhearted.

“I was hopeful that this sort of stuff wouldn’t happen in Fredericton, but as we see around the country now, it seems to be a reality,” says Daniel Chippin, a member of the synagogue’s board of directors.

Daniel Chippin, a member of the Sgoolai Israel Synagogue's board of directors, is pictured in this photo from Jan. 27, 2024.

Chippin says the fact that the vandalism happened on International Holocaust Remembrance Day is even more devastating, as the day marks the liberation of Auschwitz, a Nazi concentration camp. This was one of the things that signified the end of the Holocaust, he says.

“To some extent, I think the Holocaust kind of started with the Night of Broken Glass. To some extent, I imagine the vandal, the attacker, had this in mind.”

The Night of Broken Glass, or Kristallnacht, was a Nazi-coordinated attack on Jewish people in Germany between Nov. 9 and 10, 1938. During and after the riot, the streets were littered with broken glass, according to the United Sates Memorial Holocaust Museum.

Chippin says the congregation debated whether to continue the service on Saturday after surveying the damage, but decided to continue as it is an important day for many Jewish people across the world.

Government statement

In a statement, New Brunswick Public Safety Minister Kris Austin says he was appalled that the Sgoolai Israel Synagogue in Fredericton was vandalized.

“This cowardly antisemitic attack was all the more heinous as it took place as the world marked International Holocaust Remembrance Day,” he said.

“There is no place in New Brunswick for antisemitism.”

A synagogue in Fredericton has broken windows in this photo from Jan. 27, 2024. (Derek Haggett/CTV Atlantic)

In a Saturday press conference, Austin said he doesn’t believe it’s a coincidence this happened on International Holocaust Remembrance Day, but he would let the police determine how and what happened to the synagogue’s windows. 

The Fredericton Police Force says they are investigating the incident to determine if the damage to the synagogue was caused by “targeted hostility or other circumstances.”

New Brunswick Green MLA David Coon called the vandalism "an act of hate" in a post on X.

Raising funds

Julie Smith runs a literacy non-profit in Fredericton. She also used to work with the federal government as a Holocaust educator.

She and her husband, independent minister Dominic Cardy, decided to create a GoFundMe to raise money for the synagogue. As of this writing, the amount raised is over $2,500.

“It’s a pretty traumatizing event, so we wanted to make sure that they knew they weren’t the only ones fighting this. We’re fighting this together.”

A member of the Fredericton Police Force looks at the broken synagogue windows on Jan. 27, 2024.

Smith says she created the fundraiser separate from the congregation so they would not feel responsible for raising the money. However, she says all funds raised will be donated to the synagogue.

Education Minister Bill Hogan said in a statement on Friday that he is troubled by the recent rise in antisemitism “around the world and in Canada.”

“As we mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day on Saturday, I encourage all New Brunswickers to take time to reflect on what is truly one of the darkest chapters of human history,” the statement reads.

In the statement, the department of education announced it would partner with the Atlantic Canada Holocaust Education Foundation to bring “robust and meaningful learning experiences” to New Brunswick students.

“An important step in creating a province that is respectful and inclusive is by educating our students,” he says in the statement.

With files from CTV's Derek Haggett.

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