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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

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Chabad centre eyes increased security

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Rabbi Meir Kaplan

VANCOUVER — In the wake of recent antisemitic incidents in Victoria, B.C., one Jewish institution in the city is hoping to beef up its security measures.

The Jewish Education Centre, run by Chabad Vancouver Island, is applying for a $5,000 grant from Public Safety Canada’s Communities At Risk Securities Infrastructure Program, which provides up to 50 per cent of total project costs to a maximum of $100,000 per project.

Ottawa requires applicants to have at least 50 per cent of project costs funded by non-governmental sources when an application is submitted.

The centre wants to install $10,000 worth of security upgrades, so it must raise $5,000 on its own, said Elizabeth Wolfe, who is writing the grant application on behalf of the centre.

Rabbi Meir Kaplan, who operates the centre near McKenzie Avenue and Borden Street, hopes to improve the centre’s exterior lighting, add a lock to the Aron Hakodesh and insert a Shabbat timer to enhance security on Friday nights and Saturdays. 

The centre serves an average of 100 people each week, providing a preschool program for 15 children Monday through Friday, as well as Sunday school for 30 children, religious services on weekends and adult classes on weeknights.

“The centre is on the edge of a schoolyard and in somewhat of an undesirable neighbourhood,” Wolfe said.

“At night it’s very dark here, and people will pass through the school to access that neighbourhood. We had an antisemitic incident in the park nearby a while ago, and we’re hoping that by improving the lighting, it will discourage people from doing that kind of thing in the future.”

Rabbi Kaplan was quick to add that he rarely encounters any antisemitism in Victoria, and that the recent graffiti in the city’s Jewish cemetery was not reflective of the community at large.

“We’re fortunate to live here,” he said. “But nevertheless, there’ve been incidents that make us feel it necessary to have better security around the facility so we can offer people going into the building maximum protection. We feel it’s our responsibility.”

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