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Mayor, CAO, police chief get antisemitism training

Tuesday session was one of three meetings in recent weeks with local and national Jewish leaders
Beth Jacob Synagogue
Congregation Beth Jacob Synagogue opened its doors in Sault Ste. Marie 77 years ago

Some of Sault Ste. Marie's top local officials received two hours of antisemitism awareness training this week.

Mayor Matthew Shoemaker said he, chief administrative officer Malcolm White and Police Chief Hugh Stevenson met with Tova Arbus, Rob Cohen and Jeff Arbus from Congregation Beth Jacob, the first and only synagogue in the twin Saults.

The training was led by Jeff Arbus.

"That was productive and I think has led to a greater understanding of the current state of things in terms of the rise of antisemitism nationwide," Shoemaker told SooToday.

The session on Tuesday was one of three meetings the mayor has had in recent weeks with local and national Jewish leaders.

Earlier this month, Shoemaker participated in a Zoom call with Michael Mostyn, chief executive officer of B'nai Brith Canada.

And before that, there was another session with the Beth Jacob leadership.

"There's worry about the increasing trend of antisemitism nationwide. They want to be sure that our municipal leadership and our police leadership is attuned to that trend, if we have a situation here in the Sault that requires to be dealt with," the mayor said.

Sault Ste. Marie has had a Jewish community for 140 years. 

Congregation Beth Jacob opened its doors 77 years ago

Establishments started by local Jews have included Traders Metal, Friedman's Department Store, Davis Clothing, Bert's Auto Supply, Algoma Bakery, Algoma Hotel, Allen's Ladies Wear, Bernard Shoes, Bregman's Furniture, Con-Ell Furs, Fishman's Men's Wear, Hub Clothing, Richardson's Ladies Wear, Kleiman's Sports Store, Haft's Furniture and Daiter's Cleaners.

Congregation Beth Jacob members have contributed extensively to the community through service clubs, local boards and fundraising initiatives.

"Today, with a disturbing rise in antisemitism at home and around the world, we must maintain our collective commitment to standing up against all forms of hate and discrimination," Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a statement released last week.

"Each of us, Jews and non-Jews alike, have an ongoing responsibility to speak up in the face of antisemitism whenever and wherever it occurs."

"All Canadians have a continued role to play in making sure that fundamental respect and inclusion is at the heart of our strong communities," the prime minister said.

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David Helwig

About the Author: David Helwig

David Helwig's journalism career spans seven decades beginning in the 1960s. His work has been recognized with national and international awards.
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