B’nai Brith Canada has successfully launched a national campaign urging school boards, cities and other public groups to adopt motions that will recognize every May as Jewish Heritage Month.

The first board to adopt the motion is the English Montreal School Board (EMSB), the largest English school board in Quebec, the organization said in a statement on Wednesday.

B’nai Brith Canada expressed hope that through educational programming delivered during Jewish Heritage Month, such initiatives will provide opportunities to focus on the positive and inspirational roles Jewish Canadians have played and continue to play in this country.

“The English Montreal School Board is pleased to respond to B'nai Brith's campaign to urge municipalities and school boards to recognize every May as Jewish Heritage Month,” said Ellie Israel, Commissioner of the English Montreal School Board. “The Jewish community is an integral part of our school community.

“We feel this motion alerts the public to the many important contributions that Jews have made to building Montreal and it allows us to introduce Jewish culture and heritage to our entire student body. Our Board has thus accepted the challenge and we invite other school boards and local authorities to do the same.”

"A motion like this is especially important after the many incidents of antisemitism that occurred coast to coast in 2021,” Israel said. “It allows the population to express its solidarity with the Jewish community and it isolates the bigots and haters. We see the motion as promoting solidarity and understanding and is well in line with fostering a school board that is inclusive. . .”

“We are dealing first-hand with reports of antisemitism in Canada and the numbers are steadily climbing,” said Marvin Rotrand, National Director of B’nai Brith’s League for Human Rights. “We must address this phenomenon head on and inoculate future generations against anti-Jewish hatred with education in the classrooms and in other public fora.”

Michael Mostyn, Chief Executive Officer of B’nai Brith Canada, echoed Rotrand’s sentiments.

“Generations of Jewish Canadians have contributed enormously to help form the fabric of Canadian history, culture and society,” Mostyn said. “It is vital to recognize their achievements and pay appropriate tribute. We congratulate the English Montreal School Board for being the first to hop on board.”

The Canadian Parliament in 2018 approved legislation which makes every May Canadian Jewish Heritage Month. The bill unanimously passed the House of Commons after previously having passed the Senate.

Following the approval in the Canadian Parliament, Toronto Mayor John Tory also proclaimed the month of May to be Jewish Heritage Month.

The move in Montreal comes amid continuing antisemitism in Canada.

In late 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.

In 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.