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  • Marty Gold

Jewish Cafe Targeted On Passover Eve In Violent Incident

Updated: Apr 21, 2019

A River Heights restaurant was the scene of a brutal robbery that sent an employee to hospital, and police report antsemitic graffiti was spray-painted inside the Jewish-owned business by the suspects. Sources have confirmed that the perpetrators broke into the Cafe at 10.45 PM Thursday night and discovered a female family member on site who was assaulted.

The attack happened only a few hours after the Cafe posted an online photo of their support for the Jewish National Fund Negev Dinner Gala set for May. JNF Exec. Director Ariel Karabelnikoff was alerted to the incident by TheJ .ca and upon attending the scene pronounced it was "sickening - this one seems much worse than the previous incidents."

TheJ .ca has also learned that a gay-run Jewish non-profit group had established their office in the next unit and held a fundraiser at the facility on Wednesday night. "Be'TLV is comprised of LGBTQ* Jews of various backgrounds and their allies" and aims to "empower and showcase LGBTQ individuals" through programming at the Cafe.

Cst. Rob Carver revealed that in fact, 4 similar hate crime incidents at BerMax Caffé + Bistro had been investigated in the past 5 months.

The Corydon Avenue gathering place was known to have been spray-painted in February, at which time the owner told CBC the incident "has left a tremendous scar on our family."

Maxim Berent complained of a variety of attacks since the restaurant opened in 2014, including egging, breaking and entering, and a smashed window.

In a statement Friday afternoon, the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg said: "We are sickened by the disturbing and appalling crime which took place at BerMax Caffé + Bistro yesterday evening, and we will do all we can to support the family and those affected...We know that the vast majority of the Winnipeg community rejects hatred, and this senseless and horrible crime does not undermine that fact. "

Ran Ukashi, the National Director of the B'nai Brith League for Human Rights, issued a comment: "BerMax has been the target of four crimes in the past five months.

We strongly condemn this act of hatred timed conspicuously at the start of Passover and urge the citizens of Winnipeg to stand in solidarity with the city’s Jewish community at this time.

We categorically condemn this despicable act of vandalism and violence and trust that the police will find those responsible and bring about consequences for such hatred. "

Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman voiced support for the Jewish community via Twitter: "We will not stay silent."

City Councilor John Orlikow provided the following comment: "I am very upset. I am working on a letter to the Ward about it and the need for us all to work together against anti Semitism and hate."

On his own Twitter feed, he stated: "I will be convening a meeting of community members to advise me on the actions we can take to confront the scourge of anti-Semitism and hate."

Police characterized the interior as "severely vandalized," and asked anyone with information to call 204-986-6219 or Crime Stoppers at 204-786-TIPS (8477).

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