‘There’s nowhere to hide from antisemitism’: Hear Montreal Jews describe daily life amid gunshots and molotovs

From left: Yair Szlak, CEO of Federation CJA; Esther Klein, owner of Montreal's Kosher Quality Bakery; and Olivia Weizman, who started a petition to enhance the Montreal community's security. (Ellin Bessner photos)

In the last few weeks in Montreal, anonymous gunmen have targeted Jewish schools; vandals threw molotov cocktails at Jewish buildings; and pro-Palestinian supporters are boycotting Jewish businesses. With this intense backdrop, it’s not surprising that Montreal’s Jewish community is afraid. Ever since Hamas’s attack on Israel on Oct. 7, leaders in Canada’s second-largest Jewish city have been dealing with an eruption of antisemitism, including at least 100 hate crimes and similar incidents already reported to police.

Jewish parents are scared to send their children to school; rabbis and other leaders are demanding the Quebec government permit armed, off-duty police officers to come guard Jewish buildings; and Jewish students at McGill and Concordia are facing sometimes violent anti-Israel protesters. Law enforcement officials say they have everything under control, but to date, only one person has been charged with anything in relation to the incidents described above—compared with nearly 20 charges laid by police in other parts of Canada.

The CJN Daily host Ellin Bessner travelled to her hometown this week to see for herself why antisemitism seems so much worse in Montreal than elsewhere in Canada. On today’s episode, she speaks to Yair Szlak, CEO of Federation CJA; Rabbi Saul Emanuel of the Jewish Community Council; Jamie Ross, a financial advisor and insurance broker; Olivia Weizman, an architect helming a petition for more security; and Esther Klein, the owner of Kosher Quality Bakery.

What we talked about

  • Learn more about Olivia Weizman’s petition
  • Montreal’s Jewish Community Council wants more funding for better security during tense time, in The CJN
  • Read how Jewish students at Concordia and McGill are feeling threatened, and what they are doing to fight back against antisemitism, in The CJN


The CJN Daily is written and hosted by Ellin Bessner (@ebessner on Twitter). Zachary Kauffman is the producer. Michael Fraiman is the executive producer. Our theme music is by Dov Beck-Levine. Our title sponsor is Metropia. We’re a member of The CJN Podcast Network. To subscribe to this podcast, please watch this video. Donate to The CJN and receive a charitable tax receipt by clicking here.