Members of the Jewish community stood guard outside several Toronto area mosques during midday prayers Friday as a show of solidarity following Sunday night’s mass shooting at a Quebec City mosque.
“Their pain is our pain too,” said Rabbi Jarrod Grover, who came out to the Islamic Foundation of Toronto mosque on Nugget Avenue in Scarborough. “These people are our friends. You attack them, you attack all of us. We’re going to stand in solidarity with them.”
Jewish community members also formed a “ring of peace” around some other mosques.
Rabbi Yael Splansky of Holy Blossom Temple initiated the action, prompted by a memory of the multi-faith human chain that was formed around a synagogue in Oslo after it was attacked two years ago.
Hundreds of people from several synagogues and two churches took part in the goodwill initiative at seven GTA mosques Friday.
Splansky said she hopes that the people who are praying inside the mosques “will feel protected and cared about and that their grief might be softened somehow by our presence.”
She added that she hopes the initiative will also establish and build relationships with the Muslim community.
Grover, of Beth Tikvah Synagogue, said this is a time of “great unease” in the Muslim Canadian community.
“Many are perhaps afraid that their tradition and their faith are not being respected in Canada,” he said. “The best thing we can do to combat their feeling that this is not a tolerant, accepting society is to show them that we are.”
Imam Yusuf Badat of the Islamic Foundation of Toronto welcomed the “kind gesture.”
“They are our brothers and sisters. They are standing with us,” he said. “It’s definitely very heartening. It makes me proud as a Canadian, as a Muslim, as a human being that we have such wonderful souls within our communities that understand and are there to give their helping hand.”
Rabbi Adam Cutler of Beth Tzedec Congregation said he came to IFT to show support and sympathy for the Muslim community.
“What happened in Quebec City was an atrocity, and it’s something that all religious communities need to stand up and fight against,” he said. “It is absolutely a Jewish value to love your neighbour, to fight against intolerance and hate, and a way to do that is to stand shoulder to shoulder with communities who are feeling at risk and who are feeling fearful.”
High school teacher Omar Essawi said it was “touching” to see Jewish community members outside IFT.
“This honestly means the world to us,” he added.