Hasidic Purim tradition at odds with Montreal borough ordinance


MONTREAL (JTA) — Hasidic Jews in a tony Montreal borough could be penalized again on Purim for driving through its streets on buses and having kids hand out traditional holiday treats.

Since 2013, police in Outremont have slapped tickets totaling hundreds of dollars on the bus company hired by the Hasidim for breaking a borough ordinance barring buses on residential streets.

Human rights activists say the bylaw violates Canadian human rights charters and deliberately targets Hasidic Jews.

Although on the borough’s books since 2003, the ordinance was first enforced three years ago. The bylaw has an exemption for “special events,” but the municipality has refused to grant it to Hasidim, adding to long-existing tensions with Outremont’s French-speaking majority.

Last month, a municipal court judge canceled the ticket fines from 2014 and 2015 because of a lack of street signs explaining the bylaw.

“The question is what happens now,” Fo Niemi, director of Research-Action on Race Relations, told The Canadian Jewish News. “Will the police stop issuing the fines this Purim, or will the borough put up signs before then?”

“This is not over yet. The bylaw is still on the books.”

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