Calgary

Calgary synagogue 1 of at least 5 in Canada to receive hateful letter

Calgary police are investigating after a southeast synagogue received a hateful letter that included a swastika and a call to eliminate the Jewish people.

Police in Calgary believe the letter was sent from somewhere in southern Alberta

A swastika adorns the letter received by a Calgary synagogue. (Submitted by Judy Shapiro)

Calgary police are investigating after a southeast synagogue received a hateful letter that included a swastika and a call to eliminate the Jewish people.

It was one of at least five letters received Tuesday by synagogues across the country.

Judy Shapiro, associate executive director of the Calgary Jewish Federation, was notified about the letters by the national Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs as well as an officer with the Calgary police hate crimes unit.

"It's a particularly ugly piece of hate mail that is threatening," she said.

"I tend to not take these things terribly seriously because they're designed to create intimidation. They're not necessarily a real threat, and when I say a real threat, I mean a threat to life, but they are certainly designed to intimidate and they're designed to make people feel uncomfortable and they succeed in doing that, which is unfortunate."

The letter sent to the Calgary synagogue was the same as letters sent to synagogues in Montreal, Hamilton and Edmonton.

It features a full-page drawing of a swastika inside what appears to be a bleeding Star of David, and the words "Jewry must perish."

Sent from southern Alberta

Calgary police said based on the postmark and the fact it was processed at a Calgary mail centre, they believe the letter was sent to the Calgary synagogue from somewhere in southern Alberta.

They're now working with other centres to try and identify where those letters were sent from.

"This one is particularly ugly and particularly violent and because of that it's somewhat more concerning, but the fact is, what's concerning is anti-Semitism still persists, in 2017," said Shapiro.

"We are still battling people who hate other people for absolutely no reason other than who or what they are. And this isn't something that should upset just the Jewish community, it has to upset every Canadian because that's not what we stand for."

Prime Minister responds

B'nai Brith Canada CEO Michael Mostyn encouraged vigilance against Nazi symbolism in a press release.

"Sadly, we've seen the swastika make something of a comeback this year, defacing the walls of high schools, university campuses, and public property," Mostyn said.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also addressed the letters on social media, saying in a tweet: "These recent acts of hatred and anti-Semitism have no place in our country and we will not tolerate it."

Premier Rachel Notley also issued a statement denouncing the letters.

"Anti-Semitism has no place in Alberta or Canada," she said. 

"As Jewish families gather to share in the love and hope of Hanukkah, they deserve to do so in peace and security."

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