Several neighbours have responded to a recent ugly antisemitic incident that occurred in Woleseley by working collaboratively to produce and distribute a poster with a Magen David on it with a message fostering tolerance and mutual respect. A majority of the 44 homes on a block on Camden Street in the Woleseley neighbourhood now have the poster in their windows as a show of solidarity with their neighbours (a Jewish homeowner with a gentile spouse) who found a red gift bag with a red ribbon on their front steps with a rock inside.On the rock were the written the words, “DIE JEW BITCH. EINSATZGRUPPEN”, and on the red ribbon were written the words “Jude bitch get out of the niberhood “(sic).
Zev Rumstein (who lives on Camden Street) told the Winnipeg Jewish Review that the poster campaign is a “spontaneous grass roots response” to the anti-Semitic incident. “ A few of us worked collaboratively. One woman, who is not Jewish, who lives on a nearby street, designed the poster. We approached two printers, and one of them, Staples, offered to print 50 coloured posters free of charge. About two or three people have gone knocking on doors on our block to see if people would put up the poster. I’ve been going door to door. Most people have put the posters up” he said.
Rumstein also noted that a woman who is involved in putting out a neighbourhood watch newsletter was also in the collaborative effort. Julie Fine, Rumstein’s spouse said “I would guess that close to 70-75% of the houses on our block have put up posters.” Rumstein added “A couple of people have declined to put up the posters, and we haven’t yet connected with some people, but overall we are encouraged by the response.”
The Winnipeg Jewish Review spoke with the homeowners who were targeted by this hate crime. One of the homeowners, who is Catholic, said that “ Our neighbours have been fabulous. I really commend them. They have lifted our morale in a difficult period. Since the message was that we should ‘get out of the neighbourhood’, this response by our neighbors is very important. The poster has helped to diffuse the target. ...There are 3 to 4 other Jewish families on the block, who not surprisingly have also felt targeted by this antisemitism.`
The Jewish homeowner who was targeted said that “The response of our neighbours has been fantastic. If anything, I have been a bit disappointed with our city councillor Cindy Gilroy. I have exchanged emails with her but not yet spoken to her. She and our MLA Rob Altemyer are sympathetic but I have been hoping that they would take some more bold action, and broaden things out a bit.”
On January 26th, Julie Fine told The Winnipeg Jewish Review that "A community member about 15 blocks away contacted Zev last night as she wants to hold a community event to speak out against the crime. She wants to gather interested community members from across Woleseley."
Rumstein said that some of the neighbours on the block were aware of the anti-semitic incident, but that others hadn’t heard of it. "We are also distributing a fact sheet about the incident with the poster,” he said.
The poster leads off with the word “friendship”. There is a yellow Magen David and a red heart on it and inside the Magen David it says “We are Camden. We are Woleseley. We are neighbours.” At the bottom of the poster are written the words “Diversity, Community, Acceptance, Respect.”
When asked by the Winnipeg Jewish Review if his children knew about the incident, since he was door knocking, Rumstein answered, “ We haven’t explained the Germanic nature of the quote on the rock, but our children understand things in a broad form. They know that we are putting up the poster to help try to bring the community together."