A Jewish school based in Ottawa received an anonymous bomb threat October 31, amplifying fears of escalating anti-Semitism amid the ongoing Israel-Hamas war.
The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) reported multiple bomb threats this week across schools in Ontario, including the Ottawa Jewish Community School. "A bomb threat at my elementary school. This is what it feels like to be Jewish in 2023," said one social media user.
"The incident is a tragic reminder that the Jewish community must remain vigilant at a time of increased antisemitism in not only the Middle East, but also here in Canada and around the world," said Jon Mitzmacher, head of the Ottawa Jewish Community School.
"Jewish schools should not have to consider being open as an act of courage and Jewish parents should not have to consider sending their children to school as an act of bravery," he added.
Police say the matter remains under investigation - at the onset of Holocaust Education Month.
A statement released by OPP on Wednesday confirmed their investigation into "multiple bomb threats across parts of northern and eastern Ontario, with the threats targeting multiple schools under multiple school boards and other facilities, demanding payment."
Religious and non-religious schools, including English and French Catholic institutions, also had threats levelled against them.
"As a precaution, many targeted schools and facilities have been closed while the investigation continues," read the statement, although no devices were found during searches. There is "no indication this is anything beyond a threat, but the safety and security of everyone, including students, is a top priority," it added.
Other school boards quickly followed suit and implemented lockdowns as a precautionary measure.
On October 12, an email from the Tannenbaum Community Hebrew Academy of Toronto (TannenbaumCHAT) administration to staff and parents, confirmed three men approached students on Dufferin Street, with one individual directing threats at the school and students.
"At approximately 12:30pm, three individuals approached some of our students who were walking between school and Dufferin Street. The individuals made a threat directed towards the school to the students. The students immediately informed a member of the security staff who called 911. Police responded quickly," read the statement.
"They informed us that no one has been injured, no weapons were present, and no attempted stabbing has taken place," it added. "Verbal threats were made, and police are now on scene. Investigation of the involved parties is currently underway, with possible charges pending.
The threats came amid numerous reports of hate crimes and rising violence linked to anti-Semitic behaviour in Canada. Both pro-Israel and pro-Palestine protestors have taken to the streets to demonstrate, sparking conflicts.
The assaults have many questioning whether Canada is safe place for our Jewish community.
"Do not be silent about the horrible spike in antisemitism in Canada," read one comment. "As a Canadian and as a Jew I have always felt totally safe in Canada. Until now."