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Jewish leaders express outrage over Vancouver synagogue fire

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Representatives of Vancouver's Jewish community expressed outrage over the fire set at the entrance to a synagogue on the city's West Side on Thursday evening.

The Vancouver Police Department (VPD) said in a statement that it has launched a criminal investigation into the incident at the Congregation Schara Tzedeck synagogue and believes that a Accelerants was used to start the fire. In his statement, he said the fire was an act of arson.

According to Rabbi Andrew Rosenblatt, some congregants were standing around the corner from the entrance when the fire was set.

There was no one in the building at the time, but it was… I would say within a 10-minute window of people being in the building, Rosenblatt said in an interview with CBC News.

WATCH | Footage of the flames at the entrance to the synagogue:

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Fire at the entrance of the Vancouver synagogue

Vancouver police and firefighters are currently investigating after a fire was set at the entrance to the Shara Tzedeck Synagogue on Oak Street on the evening of May 30. Police suspect arson and are treating the incident as a possible hate crime.

He said people outside heard a bang, and then a driver stopped near the congregation and told them the building was on fire.

Community members went to the door and put out the fire, Rosenblatt said.

Thank God… there is no damage we cannot repair. But of course it is a very intimidating thing and we are glad that we did not wake up with a pile of ashes, which of course would have been… a possible outcome here, he said.

Police launch criminal investigation

In a statement, the Vancouver Fire Department said it was responding to a set fire to a house entrance at 9:45 p.m. PT on Thursday, but the fire was outside upon arrival. It was further stated that no one was injured and the damage was limited to the door frame.

VPD said Friday that its Major Crimes Unit is leading the investigation and officers from the police public information department Carrying out comprehensive public relations work.

It said additional officers had been assigned to Jewish community centers, schools and religious institutions.

This fire was deliberately set in a Jewish house of worship. Const. Tania Visintin said this in a statement.

Aron Csaplaros, BC regional manager of the Jewish advocacy group B'nai Brith Canada, said in a statement he received a panicked call from a congregation member that there was a fire burning at the synagogue entrance.

This is a serious and dangerous escalation of anti-Semitic activity in Vancouver, and it is outrageous and disgusting Csaplaros said in the statement.

CLOCK | “Nothing justifies hurting innocent people,” says Csaplaros:

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Investigation launched into arson at Vancouver synagogue

Aron Csaplaros of the Jewish advocacy group B'nai Brith Canada said he rushed to the Shara Tzedeck Synagogue on Thursday night after a fire was set outside one of its doors. Police are investigating the fire as arson and possibly a hate crime.

Politicians describe incident as anti-Semitic

Both British Columbia Premier David Eby and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau released statements on social media condemning the fire. Both politicians described it as heinous act of anti-Semitism.

We stand with the Jewish community in BC and unequivocally condemn anti-Semitism and all forms of hatred. said Eby in a post on X.

Vancouver Mayor Ken Sim said the fire was a hateful act of anti-Semitism in a press release, adding that the city stands by the Jewish community.

Vancouver is a city that prides itself on diversity, inclusivity and respect for all communities. We do not tolerate acts of hatred and violence against any group, he said in the press release.

CBC News

This article was republished from RCI.