A Community United: Montreal Shabbat Service Stands in Solidarity with Gaza

Amid escalating tensions in the Israel-Hamas conflict, a powerful Shabbat service took place in Montreal as a symbol of unity and support for Gaza. Held at a Greek community centre and open to all, the interfaith event aimed to bring people together during these challenging times. The service included the lighting of candles, singing of traditional prayers, and the sharing of challah bread.

Organizer Aaron Lakoff acknowledged the difficulties and tragedies of the past week, emphasizing the importance of creating spaces of solidarity to ease tensions. Recent incidents in Montreal, including the firebombing of a synagogue and gunfire targeting Jewish schools, have amplified the need for unity. Additionally, clashes between pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian groups at Concordia University have caused multiple injuries. Both Muslim and Jewish communities have been affected by rising hate incidents, prompting a collective call for peace.

Independent Jewish Voices hosted the event, providing an opportunity for attendees to stand in support of Palestinians and demand a ceasefire. Not only were arts and crafts tables set up for participants to create posters for future demonstrations, but informational pamphlets detailing the historical context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict were also made available. Attendees were encouraged to fill out reflective postcards addressed to their local Members of Parliament, urging them to take a closer look at the situation.

The event saw a diverse crowd, including young families and children, who openly expressed their emotions regarding the conflict. For Cee Strauss, attending the Shabbat for Gaza with their young child offered both solace and a sense of community in times of grief and outrage.

While the focus of the event was on solidarity with Gaza, it also aimed to bridge divides and foster dialogue. Corey Balsam, the national coordinator for Independent Jewish Voices, emphasized the importance of coming together without tension. Balsam expressed concern over the recent targeting of schools by gunfire and called on local politicians to join the demand for a ceasefire, urging the government to listen to the voices of the people.

Amid the escalating violence, community-led initiatives like the Montreal Shabbat service provide a space for individuals to express themselves and unite in the pursuit of peace. By fostering understanding and dialogue, these efforts bring hope for a path to reconciliation.


1. What was the purpose of the Shabbat service in Montreal?

The purpose of the Shabbat service was to stand in solidarity with Gaza and bring people together during the Israel-Hamas conflict. It aimed to provide a space for individuals from various faith backgrounds to express their emotions and demand a ceasefire.

2. Who organized the Shabbat service?

The Shabbat service was organized by Independent Jewish Voices, a community organization advocating for human rights and social justice. Their focus was to build bridges, promote understanding, and foster dialogue among different communities.

3. How did the event encourage dialogue and understanding?

The event set up arts and crafts tables for participants to create posters for future demonstrations. Additionally, informative pamphlets explaining the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict were made available. Attendees were also given reflective postcards to send to their local Members of Parliament, urging them to take a closer look at the situation and support peace-building efforts.

4. What impact did the recent incidents in Montreal have on the event?

The recent incidents, including the firebombing of a synagogue and gunfire targeting Jewish schools, highlighted the need for unity and solidarity. They served as a reminder of the prejudices and tensions that still exist. The Shabbat service aimed to overcome such divisions and create an environment for open dialogue, showing that support for Palestinians transcends religious and ethnic lines.

5. How can individuals contribute to promoting peace during the conflict?

Individuals can support peace-building efforts by engaging in constructive dialogue, raising awareness about the issue, and advocating for a ceasefire. They can also reach out to local elected officials, urging them to take action and prioritize peaceful solutions to the Israel-Hamas conflict. By staying informed and participating in community events, individuals can make a positive impact and help facilitate dialogue and understanding.