February 25, 2024

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Toronto will pause this month to commemorate the ninetieth anniversary of considered one of Canada’s worst episodes of ethnic violence, the Christie Pits Riot.

At an Aug. 16, 1933, softball sport, followers of the St. Peter’s staff unfurled swastikas and hurled antisemitic slurs in opposition to Jewish members of the rival Harbord Playground staff.

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Harbord followers, together with many Jews and Italians, determined to struggle again. The following riot lasted about six hours throughout the neighbourhood, drawing in a few of the 10,000 spectators; there have been no deaths however a number of accidents.

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“We’re attempting to honour these younger Toronto Jews and younger Toronto Italians who got here collectively to say ‘no’ to the Nazi sympathizers who tried to at all times assault the brand new immigrants. So, this is the reason we predict it’s essential to mark today,” stated Toronto metropolis Coun. Mike Colle, who will host an occasion Aug. 16 at Christie Pits Park, now a nice inexperienced house off Bloor Avenue West.

Deliberate are a commemorative baseball sport, a efficiency from the Toronto Klezmer Society, and conventional European-Jewish and Italian music, meals, and actions for households and kids.

In keeping with Dara Solomon, govt director of the Ontario Jewish Archives (OJA) and Toronto Holocaust Museum, the occasion will rejoice the alliance between the Jewish and Italian communities and lift consciousness of the risks of permitting hate to fester.

“Given the (present) local weather of rising antisemitism, it’s actually essential to remind folks about this historic occasion, that, in a law-abiding society, this stuff can occur in the event you let hate go unchecked,” Solomon stated.

Colle stated the occasion is personally essential to him, rising up in an space with plenty of Jewish and Italian presence.

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“There’s plenty of private that means for me… (I’ve) very fond reminiscences of my Jewish neighbours and proceed to do what I can to respect and honour them,” he stated.

Drew Carnwath, co-producer of an interactive play on the riot, stated it was a second of resistance by which the Jewish and Italian communities united in opposition to prejudice.

“You’ll be able to’t look away as a result of what occurred is so terrible, and but, there is a component of hope concerned, which could sound a bit loopy… and I say this as a result of it’s additionally an evening that the Jewish group stood up and stated, ‘No extra, no extra, we is not going to be abused, persecuted anymore,’” he stated.

The play was first staged for college kids from grades 8 to 10 in Toronto this 12 months, and is now happening tour throughout Ontario faculties, whereas its co-producers plan on opening it to most of the people subsequent summer season.

The Toronto District College Board and The Hogtown Collective created an immersive play to show college students in regards to the Christie Pits Riot. The play is occurring tour throughout Ontario faculties subsequent week. Photograph by Racheal McCaig

The thought for the historic theatrical expertise got here from Joseph Rosenthal, father of one of many co-producers, administrators, and writers of the present, Sam Rosenthal. For the youthful Rosenthal, remembering the riot is essential for individuals who carry its legacy.

“My father had simply handed away. It’s like, he has to get this final story out. And he did. And he stated, ‘Write this story,’” Rosenthal stated. “It’s actually essential that these of us who had household or grandparents, or associates we knew whose different dad and mom or grandparents have been concerned on this, that that we bear in mind them and that we make this an annual celebration of standing up in opposition to intolerance.”