Winnipeg restaurant vandalized with anti-Semitic graffiti

The word "Jew" was spray painted on the windows and in the parking lot of BerMax Caffe and Bistro, which serves Italian and Middle Eastern meals out of its Corydon Avenue location.

Police investigating incident as a hate crime

BerMax Caffe and Bistro was vandalised with anti-Semitic graffiti at some point late last week. Winnipeg police are now investigating the incident as a hate crime. (Sarah Petz/CBC)

Police are investigating vandalism at a Winnipeg restaurant as a hate crime.

The word "Jew" was spray-painted on the windows and in the parking lot of BerMax Caffe and Bistro, which is run by a observant Jewish family. The restaurant serves Italian and Middle Eastern meals out of its Corydon Avenue location. 

Const. Jay Murray, a spokesman for Winnipeg police, said police received a report of graffiti at the restaurant Friday morning.

The incident is now being looked into by hate crimes investigators within the Major Crimes Unit, Murray said.

In an email to CBC News, the owner of BerMax Caffe said the incident "has left a tremendous scar on our family."

"Our family came to Canada to be part of the unique Canadian society, where we can practice our Jewish tradition as we did for thousands of years, and bring our share to the general community as well as bring our contribution to Canadian society," Maxim Berent wrote.

Berent said anti-semitic graffiti was spray-painted on the building a few weeks ago, and there have been a number of incidents since the restaurant opened in 2014, including egging, breaking and entering, and a smashed window.

"Just less than a week ago, we commemorated the International Holocaust Day: A day where no matter your background, we say, 'never again, never again, never again.' Yet, it is 2019 and we are still not educated on our past and incidents of such kind bring harm our Canadian society," Berent wrote.

Laurel Malkin, president of the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg, said it is sad to see incidents like this continue to happen in the city.

"I like to think that Winnipeg is such a diverse community and that we're welcoming of so many people from so many countries and religions. And it saddens me that we're still seeing these anti-Semitic acts," she said, pointing out that Canada has seen a rise in anti-Semitic crimes nationally.

Last November, Statistics Canada released a report that showed that police-reported hate crime in Canada rose sharply in 2017, up 47% over the previous year, which was largely the result of an increase in hate-related property crimes, such as graffiti and vandalism.

Incidents targeting the Muslim, Jewish, and black populations accounted for most of the national increase.

For the year, police reported 2,073 hate crimes, 664 more than in 2016, the report said.

However, the report also showed that the amount of total hate crimes reported to police stayed the same in Manitoba, with 36 reported in 2016 and 2017.