Ontario parliament
Ontario parliamentiStock

Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center (FSWC) announced on Thursday it would be partnering with the Ontario government to help further combat antisemitism in schools.

Through the Ministry of Education, FSWC is receiving $148,000 to support the creation of its Antisemitism Classroom Toolkit (ACT), a collection of bilingual resources and programs that will introduce students to the topic of antisemitism, historical and contemporary, and ways to recognize and address it. This will include workshops and webinars for students and parents, FSWC said in a statement.

“Over the past months, we have observed a disturbing increase of hate crimes targeting Jewish students, families, and synagogues,” said Minister of Education Stephen Lecce. “We must fulfill our collective responsibility to acknowledge and decisively combat antisemitism. To ensure that students learn from history so not to not repeat it, we are delivering new resources, training, and tools to eliminate this hateful reality from the classroom and hearts of students, staff, and communities.”

Resources will include Ontario curriculum-compatible lesson plans and activities that can be implemented in Ontario classrooms, along with special programs to support teachers and parents in initiating conversations about antisemitism. ACT will look at antisemitism through a historical lens, investigating tropes, myths and trends over time and introduce key terminology and themes. ACT materials will relate these findings to trends in modern-day antisemitism so students can identify it when they see it, including antisemitism found online.

FSWC President and CEO Michael Levitt said, "We are extremely grateful to the Government of Ontario and its Ministry of Education for recognizing the importance of educating both children and adults about antisemitism and combatting it in all its forms, especially at such a critical time when antisemitism is on the rise and the Jewish community needs our allies standing with us. By supporting the development and delivery of these important resources and programs, the Ontario government is sending a message that Jew-hatred will not be tolerated in this province. Through the Antisemitism Classroom Toolkit, students, teachers and parents will gain the knowledge and tools needed to recognize antisemitism when it appears and to combat it."

Last summer, Ontario announced a plan to counter rising antisemitism in schools and communities. As part of the plan, the province said it would give $327,000 to the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies to support the courses.

One program will provide professional development sessions for educators aimed at dismantling anti-Semitism in various environments. Another will help students learn about human rights and how to deal with injustice.

The announcement came amid a rise in antisemitic incidents in Canada in recent years.

Last March, Statistics Canada released its annual survey of police-reported hate crimes which found that Jews have remained by far the most targeted religious group for hate crimes in Canada.

The Statistics Canada report found that there were 1,946 police-reported hate crimes in Canada in 2019, up 7 percent from a year earlier.

Last April, B’nai Brith Canada released its Annual Audit of Antisemitic Incidents, which found that anti-Semitic incidents in Canada have increased 18 percent since 2019.

The study affirms that Canadian Jews remain the most targeted religious group in the country.