Windows smashed at 2 North York synagogues

Rocks were thrown through the front door windows of Pride of Israel synagogue in North York at about 3 a.m. Sunday, according to synagogue chair Steven Bloom. A second North York synagogue had its windows broken half an hour later, Toronto police say. (Alexis Raymon/CBC - image credit)
Rocks were thrown through the front door windows of Pride of Israel synagogue in North York at about 3 a.m. Sunday, according to synagogue chair Steven Bloom. A second North York synagogue had its windows broken half an hour later, Toronto police say. (Alexis Raymon/CBC - image credit)

Toronto police are investigating after two "suspected hate-motivated" acts occurred at separate synagogues in North York early Sunday morning.

Just after 3 a.m. on Sunday, police received a call that a person had thrown rocks through the front windows of a synagogue near Bathurst Street and Dewlane Drive, the Toronto Police Service said in a release. Thirty minutes later, a person threw a rock through the window of another synagogue, near Bayview Avenue and Fifeshire Road, police said.

In both cases, the suspect fled on a motorcycle, police said. Investigators believe the same person is responsible for both incidents.

Police describe the suspect's height as between 5-7 and 5-10. He was wearing a light-coloured jacket and a black helmet with a visor at the time of the incidents, they said.

Steven Bloom, chair of the Pride of Israel synagogue, which was the first synagogue targeted Sunday morning, said people discovered the broken windows on their way inside for service at about 8:30 a.m.

"It's very sad," he said. "Our membership is very resilient and did not stop services."

Toronto police are seeking a suspect in two suspected hate-motivated mischief investigations. They involve two North York synagogues that had rocks thrown through their windows Sunday morning.
Toronto police are seeking a suspect in two suspected hate-motivated mischief investigations. They involve two North York synagogues that had rocks thrown through their windows Sunday morning.

Toronto police are seeking a suspect in two suspected hate-motivated mischief investigations, after rocks were thrown through the windows at two North York synagogues on Sunday morning. (Toronto Police Service)

Police did not identify either synagogue by name, but a synagogue in the second area described in the release has been the subject of two other hate-motivated investigations since April.

The Kehillat Shaarei Torah synagogue had its windows smashed on May 18, after a similar incident in April.

The investigation is being treated as a "suspected hate-motivated offence," police said, and residents can expect to see an increased police presence in both areas.

Standing outside Pride of Israel synagogue Sunday afternoon, Thornhill MPP Laura Smith called the acts "appalling."

"I find it profoundly disturbing," she said. "Tomorrow is Canada Day, and now people of our community are looking at this very destructive, disturbing and hateful behaviour."

Hate incidents on the rise in Toronto since Oct. 7

Toronto police said earlier this month that hate incidents have risen 64 per cent since war broke out between Israel and Hamas on Oct. 7. Since that day, more than 240 hate-related charges have been laid, police said earlier this month.

Police said more than half of the hate crimes reported this year have targeted Jewish people, followed by, in order, incidents against the 2SLGBTQ+, Black and Muslim communities.

In a statement released Sunday, B'nai Brith Canada chief operating officer Judy Foldes urged police forces across the country to "monitor Jewish institutions closely and vigilantly during this troubling time for Jewish Canadians."

Anyone with information is asked to contact police at 416-808-3500, Crime Stoppers anonymously at 416-222-TIPS (8477) or at www.222tips.com.