Skip to main content

Members of Calgary Jewish community say attacks in Israel hit close to home

Calgary police outside Beth Tzedec synagogue Saturday afternoon. Police say they have increased patrols around synagogues and mosques in the city following the attacks by Hamas in southern Israel early Saturday Calgary police outside Beth Tzedec synagogue Saturday afternoon. Police say they have increased patrols around synagogues and mosques in the city following the attacks by Hamas in southern Israel early Saturday
Share

Members of Calgary's Jewish community gathering at the Beth Tzedec synagogue Saturday had their hearts and heads in Israel, as images of the attacks in the southern part of the country by Hamas were shared across the media.

Jerry Snukal has two children living in Israel as well as nine grandchildren.

"Two of my grandchildren have left the military already but they got called up this afternoon," Snukal said. "One's in intelligence and one's a combat soldier.  I and my children in Israel are worried about them.

"I spoke to my daughter as well," he said. "She lives in Tel Aviv. And she said that a building was bombed only a couple of blocks from her house and they've spent most of last 24 hours in this safe room they call it."

That safe room, he explained, was a concrete bunker of sorts built right into family homes.

Calgarian Jerry Snukal has two children and nine grandchildren living in Israel

"I don't think I've ever had a child who didn't live in a home with a safe room," he said. "And when my son built a house a few years ago, they put a safe room in there.

"And when the sirens went off, that's where they were today," he said. "It’s a very important feature of Israeli houses."

Fire and smoke rises following an Israeli airstrike, in Gaza City on Oct. 7, 2023. The militant Hamas rulers of the Gaza Strip carried out an unprecedented, multi-front attack on Israel at daybreak Saturday, firing thousands of rockets as dozens of Hamas fighters infiltrated the heavily fortified border in several locations by air, land, and sea, killing dozens and stunning the country. Palestinian health officials reported scores of deaths from Israeli airstrikes in Gaza. (AP Photo/Fatima Shbair)

Snukal also expressed concerned over reports that suggested Iran has been funding Hamas, and providing them with weapons.

"Once you bring in other countries, I think we're going to have a big mess here," Snukal said. "And I guess my hope for the very short term is that there is no invasion coming from Lebanon because that would be at the bottom and the top (of the country).

"That would be terrible."

NA'AMAT CANADA

Susan Inhaber is the incoming Canadian president of Na'Amat Canada, a non-profit women's organization working to improve the lives of women and children living in Israel and Canada. She is set to be inducted next weekend at a convention in Calgary, which was supposed to include several liaisons from Israel, all of which is now up in the air.

"They want to be here, but also their hearts are at home with their families," Inhaber said. "We've got so many services there and we've got to see how things are handled."

One of those services involved was a project Inhaber personally selected -- a daycare in southern Israel, near Gaza -- which serves children living in extremely difficult circumstances.

She said that the entire daycare has been built as a safe room.

Inhaber also has family in Israel.

"My cousins' daughter is there; she lives in Tel Aviv," Inhaber said. "She happened to be up north because of the holiday, and she's really looking to get out, to leave Israel.

"It's scary," she said. "It's a scary time."

STANDING BEHIND ISRAEL

Adam Silver, the CEO of the Calgary Jewish Federation, said that Calgary's Jewish community stands behind Israel's right to defend itself, to retrieve its kidnapped citizens and soldiers, and to do what it has to to immobilize Hamas.

Calgary Jewish Federation CEO Adam Silver said Calgary's Jewish community stands by Israel's right to defend itself and to retrieve its kidnapped citizens and soldiers

Silver also said there were security concerns in Calgary.

"We're very grateful to expeditious and supportive response from the Calgary Police Service, from RCMP colleagues and from another bunch of politicians and influencers who reached out to us to support our community," Silver said.

Police said they have increased patrols around synagogues and mosques this weekend and are watching out for suspicious activity but so far there has been none.

Hate-motivated incidents have been on the rise in Calgary the past four years, and in 2022, the second most frequent motivator was religion, with the Jewish community the most targeted group in the city.

Hate-motivated crimes have been increasing in Calgary for the past four years, with Jewish groups being among the most-targeted religious groups

'TRAPPED' CALGARIANS PONDER NEXT MOVE

Yuri Isakovich and his father Boris flew into Tel Aviv last week. 

They were able to spend seven days touring around holy monuments and visiting with friends. The conflict started just two days after they went south, to the border city of Eilat. 

"Basically everything kind of changed for us," Isakovich told CTV News. "Now we're in a hotel, on the third floor (and) there's a bomb shelter downstairs in the basement."

The pair had planned to fly out of Tel Aviv on Wednesday. But with road blocks and airport closures in between them and a ticket home, Isakovich says they're prepared for a longer stay. 

"I've been in touch with the Canadian Consulate in Tel Aviv," he said. "I registered with them (Sunday) morning. At this point, we've been given very little information as far as what's happening and what's going on."

Alberta premier Danielle Smith also condemned the attacks on social media Saturday.

CTVNews.ca Top Stories

Stay Connected