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'Appalling': Antisemitic graffiti plastered on local family's home

'I’m shaken. I won’t back down, but it’s hard,' says Washago resident; OPP investigating, saying they 'take these incidents very seriously'

A Washago family is deeply concerned after their house was covered in antisemitic graffiti over the past several days.

Graffiti reading ‘Jews Die,’ ‘Slaughter,’ and other hateful messages were painted on their garage and the side of Ryan Merovitz’s family home, and a threatening note claiming his family will die was taped to their garbage bin.

Merovitz, a Jewish man, said his garage was spray-painted Saturday evening while his family was out for dinner, and the note and graffiti along the side of their home was found by his wife, Angelina, earlier Tuesday.

As Washago residents for the past eight years, he said, his family has never experienced something like this before and it has left them shaken.

“I haven’t been able to sleep, personally,” Merovitz told OrilliaMatters. “I go through scenarios in my head of if the worst happens.”

His wife shared similar sentiments.

“I’m shaken. I won’t back down, but it’s hard. I’m shaken. I’m scared,” said Angelina.

The Merovitz family had their family home covered in antisemitic graffiti, and a threatening note (shown above) in two separate incidents in the past several days, and they are speaking out against such acts of hate. Greg McGrath-Goudie/OrilliaMatters

Ryan and Angelina both said they had a few strange experiences in recent weeks, as well, when men would approach their homes, not knock on the door, but peer inside and appear to take photos of the mezuzah in their foyer before leaving.

“I couldn’t make them out, except for seeing (one of the men peering inside) and the other guy taking pictures,” Angelina said.

“Two days prior to that, two guys came … to the door, but they didn’t knock. My dogs and I were sitting there watching, waiting for them to knock, and then they pulled back out (and) walked down the road.”

Those visits, they said, took place in the days leading up to, and on, Friday, Oct. 13, the day former Hamas leader Khaled Mashal called for worldwide protests in support of Palestinians in their burgeoning war with Israel.

Ryan believes the rising tensions around the world potentially contributed to the visits and to the graffiti on his home in the past several days.

“I understand people have their beliefs, people have their points of view on what might be happening in the world,” he said. “We’re in Canada. We’re not at war. We’re just a family trying to live like everybody else.”

Despite the discomfort the incidents have caused for him and his family, Ryan is determined to be outspoken against such acts of antisemitism and hate, and he said he has been making posts on social media about the incidents, on top of contacting police.

“This can’t be allowed. The Jewish people have a saying that we live by that says, ‘Never again,’ and absolutely never again can we allow this to happen,” he said. “If they got this done under the cover of night, they hid in the shadows, let’s shine the spotlight. Let’s give them nowhere to hide.”

Over the past few days, the Merovitz family said the Washago community has shown an outpouring of support for them.

Community members have been stopping by, organizing get-togethers, offered to paint over the graffiti, and more, they said, stressing the overwhelming majority of those in the community are the “greatest people.”

“The outreach in our community has been incredible. Many people have seen the posts that we’ve made and have gone out of their way to come or to offer help,” Ryan said. “I’ve known the people here for almost 10 years — some of the greatest people I’ve met in my walk of life. They’re just honest, down to earth; they don’t give you any guff.”

Severn Township Mayor Mike Burkett was upset to hear of the incidents taking place in his community.

“It’s just appalling. I can’t believe, in this day and age — we live in Canada, and with how good we have it — that even enters into anyone’s mind,” he told OrilliaMatters.

“That’s not who Canadians are, and that’s not what we are here (in Washago). We need to rally around them — all of us. We need to support them in whatever way we can.”

OPP officials said they are investigating the incidents.

“We’ll look at whether it is hate motivated or not,” said Orillia OPP Const. Brett Boniface. “We do always make sure that we have a victim-centred lens on when we’re doing that investigation to make sure that the victims feel safe. We will conduct it like we do every other investigation: as thoroughly as possible.”

Boniface said police forces stand against hatred in the communities they serve.

“There is no place for hate in our community, and we take these incidents very seriously,” he said.

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Greg McGrath-Goudie

About the Author: Greg McGrath-Goudie

Greg has been with Village Media since 2021, where he has worked as an LJI reporter for CollingwoodToday, and now as a city hall/general assignment reporter for OrilliaMatters
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