Security Update October 26 2023

In the wake of the horrific Hamas terror attacks of October 7th, we’ve all seen the concerning rise of antisemitism in our city – including disturbing anti-Israel protests.

We are writing to update community members about one such expected action: a so-called “Ride for Gaza” by anti-Israel activists this Saturday afternoon, starting in Pickering and proceeding along Sheppard Avenue to Yorkdale Shopping Centre.

Upon learning about this rumour, UJA Community Security immediately contacted police and conducted open-source research to determine its veracity. It appears to be a real initiative, although the anticipated scale seems to be modest at this stage.

We have raised the seriousness of this matter directly with police. In those conversations, we are making it clear that this is an unacceptable attempt to provoke our community and escalate tensions. While freedom of expression is important, it can never be an excuse for hate, incitement, or intimidation. Our expectation is that the full weight of the law be applied to anyone who breaks it.

We remain in communication with police about measures that law enforcement will be taking in response, with the goal of ensuring the safety, peace, and peace-of-mind of our community. As we continue engaging police, we will provide an update to our community as more information becomes available.

We have also been in conversation with representatives of Oxford Properties (which oversees Yorkdale Shopping Centre, where the “Ride for Gaza” is supposed to conclude). Oxford has confirmed their parking lot is private property, and that they have neither been asked nor given permission to those behind this initiative. They emphasized that security is positioned at parking entrances, especially on weekends. Security at the mall has notified authorities, and remains committed to enforcing Yorkdale’s policy of ensuring a safe environment for all shoppers and staff.

We advise community members to maintain a heightened sense of vigilance and awareness. If you see something, please say something immediately. In an emergency, call 911.

Our community’s security remains UJA’s top priority. We continue to work closely with police to ensure constant support for the community at this time of heightened vigilance.

In recent weeks, police have put into place robust measures to protect our community. This includes increased patrols, frequent visits to Jewish institutions, rapid incident response, and significant initiatives that cannot be publicized so as not to undermine their effectiveness. Our close partnership with police will continue throughout this difficult period and beyond.

We also recognize that the ability of police to address antisemitic hate crimes is limited by resources. With this in mind, we’re asking all community members who live in Toronto to consider emailing Mayor Olivia Chow and the Toronto Police Services Board. Our ask is simple: please prioritize additional funding for police efforts to counter hate against targeted communities like ours.

Click here to email Mayor Chow and click here to contact the Toronto Police Services Board.

If you live in York Region, click here to email York Region Chair Wayne Emmerson and here to send a message to the York Regional Police Services Board.

We also want to remind community members of the importance of reporting security incidents and rumours to UJA Community Security, when safe to do so. If you see or hear a concerning warning about security, please share it immediately with UJA Community Security. We ask that you include any details that will help us identify first-hand witnesses and sources. Click here to share information with our team.

UJA Community Security