The Seder Plate, featured here, is the central piece to every Passover Seder dinner. Photo credit: Brandon Plant

Jewish people around the world over the last week have been observing the holy holiday of Passover, but for some Jewish students at Algonquin College, the holiday brings a sense of togetherness for them during a time of increased anti-Semitism worldwide.

For Matthew Bromberg, a Jewish business management and entrepreneurship student, it’s a chance to see family and unite in their shared faith.

“Getting to be with family is one of the best things about the holy holidays, but this year, it feels like it means more to be together and united in our faith than ever before,” Bromberg said.

Bromberg noted a rising Jewish hatred worldwide, specifically in Ottawa, over the last few years.

“I mean, just look at the recent examples of anti-Semitism here in Ottawa alone. I feel that by observing our holidays and being proud of our heritage, we’re fighting back against the unfound hatred we’re facing,” Bromberg expressed.

Bromberg is not wrong. A recent report released by Statistics Canada says, “Nearly 900 hate crimes were motivated by religion [in Canada] during 2021, with more than half directed at Jewish people.”

Recent examples of anti-Jewish bigotry have gripped the capital and have made national headlines as well.

Whether it was the recent hate crime at Sir Robert Borden High School where Jewish students were confronted with Nazism by fellow students or the Ottawa courthouse and synagogues city-wide being vandalized with swastikas and SS emblems, the city has seen an unfortunate rise in Jewish hatred.

A Government of Canada factsheet on anti-Semitism in Canada says, “Regrettably, anti-Semitism persists in Canada in various forms. Despite representing less than one percent of the Canadian population, Jews are the religious group in Canada most likely to be targeted for hate crimes.”

Eitan Ostrovsky, a Jewish Algonquin College HVAC student, sees a lot of parallels between the story of Passover and the increased hatred Jewish people have been facing as of late.

“The story of Pesach is about how our ancestors freed themselves from enslavement and persecution in Egypt. It’s a story of triumph and sticking together, which are things we must continue to do to this day to fight off those who persecute us,” Ostrovsky said.

“The Jewish people have been facing bigotry for thousands of years, as long as we stick together we will be all right.”