Montreal borough bylaw bars Hasidic Purim tradition

Marcy Oster

MONTREAL (JTA)—Hasidic Jews in the tony Montreal borough of Outremont could get penalized again this Purim for driving through its streets with kids on buses handing out traditional mishloach manot treats.

Since 2013, police have slapped tickets totaling hundreds of dollars on the bus company hired by the Hasidim, for breaking a borough bylaw barring buses on residential streets.

But human rights activists say the bylaw violates Canadian human rights charters and deliberately targets Hasidic Jews.

Although on the borough’s books since 2003, the bylaw was first enforced against Hasidim three years ago.

The bylaw also has an exemption for “special events,” but the municipality has refused to grant it to Hasidim, adding to long-existing tensions with Outremont’s French-speaking majority.

Last month, a municipal court judge cancelled the ticket fines from 2014 and 2015 because of a lack of street signs explaining the bylaw.

“The question is what happens now,” Fo Niemi, director of Research-Action on Race Relations, told The Canadian Jewish News. “Will the police stop issuing the fines this Purim, or will the borough put up signs before then?”

“This is not over yet. The bylaw is still on the books,” Niemi said.