Shock and outrage: Our community mourns

The Montreal Jewish community expressed solidarity and condolences to the victims of Monday’s terror attack in Toulouse, France. (Photo: Vadim Daniel)

“Rabbi Yonaton Sandler, age 30. Miriam Monstango, age 8. Gavriel Sandler, age 6. Arye Sandler, age 3. Four lives cut tragically short. Four lives lost in a senseless act of terrorism,” David Cape, President of Federation CJA said at an impromptu service held Tuesday morning in the lobby of Cummings House. “As a community, we are outraged and appalled by this tragedy. And that children were the intended target… there are no words.”

When the shocking and tragic news came Monday morning of a terror attack against a Jewish school in Toulouse, the Montreal Jewish community was invited to express solidarity and condolences to the victims of this heinous crime. The service, organized on Monday by Federation CJA and the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, drew over 200 people who filled the lobby. Emotions ran high as the community showed their support for Jews in France and honoured the dead.

“When you mourn the loss of children, you mourn what was lost and you mourn what could have been. We mourn so much,” said Rabbi Reuben Poupko through tears. “Silence sends the message that this is acceptable. We need to hear the voices of Quebec political leadership denounce all attempts to divide people. The victims in Toulouse remind us that when hatred is allowed to be unleashed, and it is not denounced and stopped soon enough, that it ends up in terrible violence and terrible bloodshed. Let us honour their memories by speaking loudly for Quebec values of diversity and pluralism.”

The Consul General of France in Montreal, Bruno Clerc, said that France is crying for its children. He noted that the government of France has made it a priority to find the perpetrator of the attack and that we would all stand together to not let the terror, the hate and the pain win.

Emotions ran high as over 200 people showed their support for Jews in France and honoured the dead. (Photo: Vadim Daniel)

The Consul of Israel to Montreal Alon Melchior and the Chair of the Sepharade Campaign of the 2012 Combined Jewish Appeal Karen Soussan also brought messages of solidarity. Rabbi Chaim Steinmetz offered an informal prayer for the victims and challenged participants to demand of its leaders that anti-Semitism not exist in the future.

“We ask why. Why were these children killed? They were killed because they were going to a Jewish school. They were killed because they were following Jewish rituals. They were killed because they were Jews,” he said. “And I know when I dropped off my four children at Jewish school this morning that the killer would target them just as he targeted those four innocents in France.”

Cape addressed these fears in an email that went out to the community on Monday after the news of the shootings. He noted that Federation CJA is maintaining tight cooperation with the Montreal police (SPVM) and public security forces to ensure excellent security within the Jewish school system. Law enforcement increased vigilance and patrols at Jewish institutions and Federation CJA security is working directly with the schools to attend to specific security concerns.

For most of the people in attendance at the service, however, all thoughts were on the terrible loss and tragedy for the global Jewish community.

“We will remember the names of Rabbi Sandler, of Miriam Monstango, of Gavriel Sandler and of Arye Sandler,” said Cape. “We will remember them and we will honour them by living freely, justly and Jewishly.”

Share your messages of solidarity and condolences in the comments below.

  • Ruth Eliesen says:

    A terrible tragedy and savagery committed for what??? I laud my granddaughter, Ronni, and all the young people standing up against this terror – we all need to – for their future!!!

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