Study to focus on anti-Semitism in Windsor

Windsor, Ontario

It’s not known as a hotbed of anti-Semitism, but Windsor, Ont. is the focus of a study on the subject.

Actually, there are two studies, both launched and directed by Prof. John Cappucci, principal and vice-chancellor of Assumption University and the Stephen A. Jarislowsky Chair in Religion and Conflict.

Each survey takes about 30 minutes to complete online.

For the first, participants need to identify as Jewish, currently live in Windsor-Essex, and be at least 18 years old. It will attempt to gauge the Jewish community’s views of the state of antisemitism in Windsor-Essex.

“The study looks at perceptions of anti-Semitism – what people believe is going on, what they feel, what they think,” Cappucci told The CJN in a recent interview.

The survey asks area Jews whether they feel safe and what measures need to change.

The second part looks at local Jewish adults who have personally experienced anti-Semitism in the last five years – in any form.

“Anti-Semitism, unfortunately, has several ugly heads,” Cappucci said. “There’s religious-based antisemitism, economic, cultural, ideological…it goes on and on.”

Participants are asked whether they have experienced these types of anti-Semitism, or any not listed, he added.

Cappucci said he was encouraged by a study launched a year ago by Prof. Barbara Perry of the Centre on Hate, Bias and Extremism at Ontario Tech University in Oshawa. That study sought to examine how victims of anti-Semitic hate crimes cope, looking at Montreal, Toronto, Hamilton, Ottawa, London, and Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo.

Another motivator was B’nai Brith Canada’s most recent annual audit of anti-Semitism, which found 2,200 antisemitic incidents recorded nationally in 2019, up eight percent over the year before. It was the fourth consecutive record-setting year for anti-Semitism in Canada.

Cappucci said he noticed in that audit that Ontario experienced a major increase – more than 62 percent in antisemitic incidents in 2019. He thought it “an anomaly,” given that other provinces were reporting declines.

“So I started thinking, ‘what’s going on in Ontario?’”

Another reason was that “we don’t really know much about what’s going on in Windsor. We have a lot of anecdotal stories. We get a little bit from the press. But we don’t know from a scholarly perspective exactly what’s going on.”

Cappucci is relying on the 2011 census, which found 1,515 Jews in Windsor and the communities of Lakeshore, Tecumseh, LaSalle and Amherstburg.

As far as known antisemitic incidents locally, he said there have been graffiti, hate mail and vandalism. In February 2017, a rock was thrown through the window of Windsor’s Mazal Tov Kosher Cuisine and Catering.

In November, a fraternity at the University of Windsor was taken to task for running a private online chatroom that featured hateful comments about Blacks, Jews and the LGBTQ community.

Cappucci said he wanted to conduct two surveys “because I want to see if there’s a difference between perception and actualization.”

Dan Brotman, executive director of the Windsor Jewish Federation & Community Centre, said his facility will encourage its members to participate in the surveys, “as it is important for us to have a pulse on how safe our community feels.”

He believes this is the first study of anti-Semitism in Windsor.

A summary of the study’s results should be available by Sept. 1, 2021 and will be posted on the Assumption University website at www.assumptionu.ca.

Cappucci said he’ll share the results with the Windsor JCC and two local synagogues, Congregation Beth El and Congregation Shaar Hashomayim.

Participants’ confidentiality and anonymity will be maintained. Contact Cappucci at [email protected]

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