Two Ottawa mothers express fear for their children’s safety amid rising antisemitism

Two Ottawa mothers recently sat their young children down for a difficult conversation about antisemitism — much earlier than they had planned.The mothers say they now fear for their Jewish children who were recently targets of hateful remarks, as reports of antisemitism across Canada continue to prevail.

Anna, who grew up Jewish in the Soviet Union, says she advised her 11-year-old daughter to no longer leave the house with her Star of David visible after a schoolmate told her a few months ago she has to end her life because of her heritage.

“She said… ‘one boy told me a lot of Jews have to die and I have to (commit) suicide because I’m a Jew,’” Anna said on the Roy Green Show Saturday.

“I can’t even describe how I felt at that moment. She’s like ‘mom, I’m so confused. I’m Canadian… how come I have to hide my identity?’”

Media agreed not to use Anna’s last name as she fears for her family’s safety. After moving to Canada and starting a family, she says she never imagined her children would experience the adversity that she did in Russia for being Jewish.

“We came to Canada because we believed it’s a beautiful, safe country that embraces diversity and inclusion, and we can raise our children here. And here I am again. I’m afraid, I’m scared,” Anna said. “I’m very concerned about her safety.”

Tejaswinhi Srinivas is Indian-American married to a Canadian who is Jewish. She says she “wasn’t prepared” for her son to be singled out for his identity at the young age of five-years-old.

Srinivas told Roy Green Saturday that her son recently confided in her husband that an older child on his school bus had “asked everyone Jewish to raise their hand.”

She says hearing about the incident was “completely shocking.” Her son’s understanding of being Jewish had always been attached with positive memories such as lighting candles for Hanukkah, she said, but that has now been tarnished.

“Over the last several months his attention has shifted from the sheer joy of those traditions to an awareness that there are people out there right now who don’t like Jews, who wouldn’t like him if they knew who he was,” she said. “And when you’re just a kid trying to make sense of the world, that can just be shattering.”

Srinivas says she knew a conversation with her son about his heritage would come one day, but not so soon.

“At some point we know we’ll have to have the talk that many Jewish families have with their kids. How is it that a whole part of daddy’s family was killed in the Holocaust? But we have not been prepared to go that far yet.”

“And my son told his father that he knew not to raise his hand because the kid sounded mean,” Srinivas said.

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