Police detachments across the country have launched investigations into hate-filled messages delivered to Jewish centres during Hanukkah.

Chabad Lubavitch of Alberta in southeast Calgary received a letter last week that called for death to all Jews and included images of a swastika and a blood-covered Star of David. Officials with the synagogue reported the matter to police and handed the letter over for examination.

Similar letters and posters have been sent to synagogues in Edmonton as well as Jewish centres located in British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec. At least 12 letters have been reported to police in Canada.

Rabbi Menachem Matusof of Chabad Lubavitch says hatred targeting the Jewish people has occurred throughout history and the community will continue to find strength in the teachings found during the festival of light.

“It was very disturbing that, in the holiday of Hanukkah where the message of Hanukkah is freedom of expression, freedom of religion, live and let live which raise a universal message, that this is taking place,” said Rabbi Matusof. “It’s very painful that hatred is still there and it shouldn’t be tolerated.”

The rabbi adds the origin of the festival of light was in response to intolerance.

“Hanukkah started with a handful of people who stood up against a regime who did not allow them to practice their own religion in their own city, in their own country.”

Doug King, a professor of Justice Studies at Mount Royal University, says there are two provisions under the Criminal Code of Calgary, the willful promotion of hatred in a public communication and the willful promotion of genocide, and either could result in indictable charges related to hate crimes.

“The first thing that the police are going to have to determine is trying to figure out if the letter was actually generated here in Canada or if it came from outside Canada,” said King.“It could easily be that it’s a group that is sending propaganda out. It could also be that it just might be an individual who is carrying out some kind of personal agenda.”

Rabbi Matusof continues to promote a message of tolerance and harmony.

“We need to educate our children and our youth and our neighbours that it’s okay to be different and it’s okay to practice and not everyone needs to be the same.”

With files from CTV’s Stephanie Wiebe