A Saskatoon rabbi says the city’s Jewish community was “in shock” when news broke of Saturday’s horrific attack on a synagogue in Pittsburgh.
The congregation at Agudas Israel — Saskatoon’s Jewish Community Centre — was in the middle of their Shabbat when one of their members found out about the shooting, which left 11 people dead and more injured.
“I was horrified,” Rabbi Claudio Jodorkovsky told 650 CKOM. “It was really difficult to continue leading services.”
He said they decided to improvise a moment to honour the victims and ask for healing, but it was “difficult to comprehend” such a crime was possible in the U.S.
Jodorkovsky said there is concern over the rise of anti-Semitism in North America in general, with hate crimes and anti-Semitic attacks seemingly increasing.
But, he noted it’s not just about the Jewish community, saying he’d noticed a rise in all forms of racism.
“We’re seeing more tolerance for racist language from politicians and leaders, and on social media. That’s really concerning.”
The rabbi suggested people should stop racist language from being used in their family as a start to ending the rise of hate.
While there are general concerns, Jodorkovsky — who grew up in South America — said he feels safer in Saskatoon.
“I walk in the street with my kippah (religious headwear) and I never receive any threat, so I can say I feel secure,” he said.
He said part of that feeling comes from the sense of community between Saskatoon’s different religious groups.
In the wake of the Pittsburgh attack, Jodorkovsky said the Jewish Community Centre has received messages of support from Muslim and Christian congregations.
“The religious institutions in Saskatoon are like a family, we are all connected,” he said.
Agudas Israel is planning a solidarity vigil service in honour of the Pittsburgh victims for Tuesday evening at 7:30 p.m. at the Jewish Community Centre at 715 McKinnon Avenue.
Jodorkovsky said they are welcoming people from all walks of life to attend as an opportunity to offer support and condolences as a community.