Canadian Jewish Congress Issues Statement on Quebec’s Expropriation of Synagogue Site

A statement challenging the action of the Quebec municipality in expropriating the site on which the Jewish community of Quebec was building a synagogue was issued here today by the Canadian Jewish Congress through H.M. Caiserman, its general secretary.

“In order to prevent the Jews of Quebec City from erecting a synagogue,” the statement says, “the majority of the Quebec City Council seeks to expropriate the site which the Jewish community has purchased and upon which it is in the course of building. This action the Jewish community will challenge as an undue interference. The issue involved in the Quebec case is of vital concern not only to every Canadian Jew but to every citizen of this country who wishes to see freedom of worship maintained in Canada.

“The City Council has passed a by-law expropriating this site allegedly because the city requires the land in order to enlarge a near-by park. The hollowness of this motivation was exposed when the Jewish community offered to surrender the lot for this purpose if the city would promise that a permit would be issued to build a synagogue elsewhere in a part of the city suitable to the community. This offer of the Jewish community was not accepted.

“In fact this step by the Quebec Council is the latest in a long series of obstructions and hinderances during the past ten years by means of which the considerable Jewish community has been prevented from erecting a synagogue. It is a most flagrant assault on freedom of worship and the civic right to erect a house of worship for the citizens of the Jewish faith. Never before in the history of our country has this right been so openly or so unashamedly suppressed or challenged.

JEWISH COMMUNITY EXPLORED ALL POSSIBILITIES FOR A COMPROMISE

“At the present time, the freedom of worship and of faith is one of the Four Freedoms which every section of Canada has girded arms in mortal combat to protect. It is a high civic duty for every individual and every group in the community to exercise that vigilance which is the well-known price of liberty in defence of the freedoms which our constitution and traditions provide. We cannot conceive that our victorious soldiery in which the Jewish servicemen are playing a glorious part shall doff their uniforms to find that we here have lost what they fought so bravely to win for us.

“The Jewish community has explored the possibility of compromise and settlement on the question at issue,” the statement continues. “We have sought the conciliatory offices of influential and respected men. We have been patient and considerate of the feelings of those of another faith and of other views. We have acted conservatively within our rights and carefully in fulfillment of our duties. But we have not won the most elementary recognition of our rights from the narrow majority of the Quebec City Council. We would not be doing justice to our civic duties or to our obligations towards our younger generation if we did not exert ourselves to the utmost to establish a synagogue where it will be possible to worship in the ancient and widely respected traditions of our people.

“It would be a thousand pities if this matter should have to be fought out in the courts. One is at once reminded of famous cases of more than fifty years ago involving religious issues which then aroused bitter feeling, and which should not be forgotten. Why not let the dead past bury its dead? We sincerely hope that the wise men of Quebec will prevail upon their minority not to allow this issue to get out of hand, but to settle it in the broad and tolerant spirit so eloquently preached by the civil and religious leaders of Quebec City and Province,” the statement concludes.

NEXT STORY