June 14, 2021
MONTREAL – A local kosher restaurant is picking up the pieces after suffering damage in a recent attack that Montreal police are investigating as a potential hate crime.
On Sunday night, unknown assailants shattered the front door of Chez Benny in Ville Saint-Laurent with a rock, then attempt to light a fire, which failed to catch due to a lack of flammable material. There was no evidence of any attempt to take money or valuables from the restaurant. No one was in the restaurant at the time of the incident.
Chez Benny shares a plaza with two non-kosher restaurants, neither of which was attacked. For this reason, and in light of recent antisemitic incidents in Montreal during and following the latest round of fighting between Israel and Hamas, the SPVM are treating the attack on Chez Benny as a potential hate crime.
B’nai Brith has spoken to owner Mike Assedo, who says that he hopes to be able to re-open on Wednesday. Assedo also called on anyone who may have been in the area and witnessed the vandalism or saw something suspicious to contact police.
“It has been a difficult month and a half for Jews across Canada, so people are naturally on edge following this attack,” said Michael Mostyn, Chief Executive Officer of B’nai Brith Canada. “We thank our friends at SPVM for their swift work, and will do anything possible to assist with the investigation.”
In January of this year, a man drew swastikas on a prominent Montreal synagogue before attempting to light it on fire. He was swiftly apprehended, but later found not criminally responsible by reason of mental disorder.
In May of last year, another Montreal synagogue was ransacked, with ritual items dumped on the floor and even stuffed into toilets. In March, Patrice Belley-Gervais was charged with breaking and entering in relation to that incident, which remains before the courts.
Back in 2005, a Montreal man was sentenced to 40 months in prison for firebombing a Jewish school in the city. He told the court that “it was an emotional reaction to the situation in the Middle East.”