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  • Antisemitism is the manifestation and expression of discrimination against Jewish people. Antisemitism can take many forms, ranging from individual acts of discrimination, spreading rumours, stereotypes and misconceptions, physical violence, vandalism and hatred, to more organized and systematic efforts to destroy entire communities and genocide. 
  • The term genocide was coined by a Jewish judge named Raphael Lemkin in 1944 in his book Axis Rule in Occupied Europe (external link) . Lemkin took part in writing and pushing forward the  (PDF file) Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (Genocide Convention) following the Holocaust. On December 9, 1948 the United Nations approved the Genocide Convention, an agreement that prevents and punishes perpetrators of genocide. 
  • The Ontario Human Rights Commission defines antisemitism as the “latent or overt hostility or hatred directed towards, or discrimination against individual Jews or the Jewish people for reasons connected to their religion, ethnicity, and their cultural, historical, intellectual and religious heritage” (Canadian Race Relations Foundation, 2013).

Perspectives on antisemitism

“It seems that the world is reversing, turning back to the time of xenophobia, hatred, and antisemitism. Speaking about my experience is an obligation to young people to help make them aware of the situation of the world in which we live and somehow try to induce them to action, which would prevent the repetition of the event…. education is not enough; education has to be coupled with sensitivity, understanding, and above all compassion for other human beings.”

Learn more about Nate's story.

Nate Leipciger
Nate Leipciger (Holocaust educator and author)
Ruth Panofsky
Dr. Ruth Panofsky (Professor, Department of English)

“Holocaust denial, like hate speech against Jews, is not uncommon. Among ethnic groups, Weinfeld reports, Jews are statistically the most subject to hate crimes. The unmistakable Jewish support for Canadian pluralism is not surprising then, for it emerges from knowing first-hand how it feels to live and work in mainstream society as a member of a minority group.”

Read more from Ruth’s book review Like Everyone Else but Different.

“Antisemitism is a constantly mutating virus that infects all parts of society. No ideology or political vantage point is immune. And while for many people, the frame of reference for antisemitism is the Holocaust, it's unfortunately very much alive and well today. It is not a relic of the past, nor is it exclusive to Nazi ideology.”

Learn more by watching Generous Futures: Antisemitism Online (external link) .

Noah Shack, Vice President GTA, The Centre for Israel & Jewish Affairs
Noah Shack (Vice President GTA, The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs)
Emily Thompson
Emily Thompson (Associate Director, Research Department, Simon Wiesenthal Center — Museum of Tolerance)

“Once considered to be the property of a fringe community, antisemitism has seeped into mainstream discourse and platforms, and increasingly across spaces inhabited by young people… a lot of antisemitic rhetoric guised as so-called dark humour, in memes and jokes, and it gives a kind of veneer of deniability for those who create and share it.”

Learn more by watching Generous Futures: Antisemitism Online (external link) .

What is Judaism?

  • Judaism is a monotheistic religion, meaning that Jews believe in one God who revealed himself to Abraham, Moses and the Hebrew prophets and by a religious life in accordance with Scriptures and rabbinic traditions.
  • Judaism is one of the three major monotheistic (Abrahamic) religions, along with Christianity and Islam.
  • Judaism’s holy book, the Torah, is considered by Jews to be the divine revelation.
  • Judaism can be considered simultaneously as a race, a nationality and a culture.
  • Judaism encompasses various denominations, including for example, Rabbinic, Reform, Orthodox, Conservative, Reconstructionist and Jewish Renewal, each navigating the balance between tradition and modernity in unique ways.

Jewish people in Canada

  • Judaism is one of the world’s oldest religions in the world, with about 14 million Jewish worldwide (0.2% of the world’s population). 
  • The first known Jews to settle in the land we now call Canada were Samuel Jacobs and Aaron Hart who were commissaries attached to the British army during the British conquest of New France in 1760. Prior to that, Jewish immigration was banned in New France.
  • In 2021, Jews in Canada made up 1.4% of the total population.
  • In the Greater Toronto Area, 4% of the population is Jewish.
  • Canada has the fourth largest Jewish community in the world with a population of over 390,000. 
  • The first synagogue in Canada was the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue of Montreal, established in 1768 in Montreal, QC.

Canadian context 

  • Canada has historically and systematically discriminated against Jewish people, for example:
    • Jewish students were restricted from enrolling in universities between 1920 and1960.
    • Canada had antisemitic immigration policies between 1933 to 1948, when less than 5,000 Jewish immigrants were allowed into Canada. 
    • Until 1950, it was legal to prohibit Jews and racialized people from owning property in Canada.
    • Until the 1960s some social and sports clubs prohibited Jewish people from watching games or becoming members.
  • In more recent times, there have been an increase in initiatives by the Government of Canada to combat antisemitism:
    • Canada has been a member of International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) since 2009.
    • Since 2019, the Government of Canada has committed close to $100 million dollars to combat racism, including $70 million dollars to community organizations to address issues of anti-racism and multiculturalism. Canadian Heritage has also been allocated $85 million over four years to support work on a new strategy on anti-racism and action plan on combatting hate. 
    • Since November 2020, the Prime Minister has appointed a Special Envoy on Preserving Holocaust Remembrance and Combatting Antisemitism. In October 2023, Deborah Lyons (external link)  was appointed for the role.

International Holocaust Remembrance Day (January 27)

  • International Holocaust Remembrance Day commemorates the victims of the Holocaust and the liberation of the Nazi Concentration and Extermination Camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau by Soviet troops on January 27, 1945. 
  • Six million Jewish people were murdered during the Holocaust. Members of other marginalized communities including queer people, people with disabilities and racialized people also suffered the same fate.
  • Officially established by the United Nations General Assembly in 2005, this day provides an opportunity to remember the victims of the Holocaust and renew our commitment to combatting antisemitism and all forms of racism.

Facts and figures on antisemitism

According to the Government of Canada (external link) :

  • Antisemitism remains the most prevalent reported hate crime in Canada.
  • In 2021, 62% of hate crimes reported against religious communities in Canada affected Jewish Canadians directly. 
  • In 2021, the B'nai Brith 2021 Audit of Antisemitic Incidents (external link)  reported a total of 2,799 hate crimes and incidents, a 7.2% increase than 2020 (marking a sixth-consecutive year increase).

How to combat and confront antisemitism

Recognize that antisemitism is a form of discrimination that is rampant in today’s societ

  • The first step towards combatting and confronting antisemitism is to acknowledge that it is not a thing of the past. Rather, it is rampant in today’s society and it is our collective responsibility to confront it.
  • Explore structural barriers that exacerbate antisemitism including stereotypes, misconceptions and online misinformation, such as the denial of the Holocaust, depiction of Jewish people as conspiring to dominate the world and suggestions that Jews control financial institutions and the media.

Educate yourself on antisemitism 

Increase your knowledge with accurate information about antisemitism. Suggested resources to explore:

Build relationships with Jewish people

Highlighting Gordon Allport (external link) ’s intergroup contact theory, make an effort to build genuine and authentic relationships with Jewish people. Allport’s theory states that getting in contact with people deemed the ‘other’ can help to reduce prejudice and biases if certain conditions are met, including: equal status, having a common goal, mutual cooperation, and institutional support.

If it’s safe to do so, confront and call-out antisemitism

  • If you witness or encounter antisemitism, whether online or in-person, and if it is safe to do so, speak up to support the victim and denounce the act.
  • Call for help if needed.
  • If you encounter antisemitism on social media, report it to the platform.
  • If a hate crime has occurred, report it to the police (external link) .

Resources at TMU

Hillel TMU (external link)  works to support Jewish students on campus through educational sessions, festive and meaningful celebrations, community meals and religious services. Hillel will act on behalf of Jewish students on matters related to Jewish observance and ensure all religious needs are met on campus.

The Jewish Employee Community Network is composed of faculty and staff who identify as Jewish. The group enables its members to connect through community-building initiatives and aims to further the goals of its diverse members.