04/16/2012 09:12 EDT | Updated 06/16/2012 05:12 EDT

Jewish Homes Vandalized In The Laurentians

Vandals ransacked more than a dozen homes in a gated community in Val Morin over the weekend, marking walls with racial slurs and swastikas.

Jacob Karmel's summer home was one of them.

Karmel runs a clothing store in Montreal and has spent his summers in Val Morin for the past two decades.

"It brings the message a bit closer that the hatred is there. It's just sad," he said. "But then again it has been there before. Unfortunately there is a small segment of society that's just going to be there forever."

Karmel recalled Val Morin's Jewish community was also targeted in 2005. That time, vandals broke into a synagogue and desecrated hundreds of holy books.

Long-time Val Morin resident Joanne Cyr said many in the small town feel cut-off from the tight-knit Jewish community.

"That's what hurts. It feels like we cannot get together, like there is a wall between us," said Cyr.

Another resident, Isabelle Challut, said she is sad the Val Morin community can't co-exist peacefully.

"It's sad that people just can't live together," said Challut.

Provincial police said it's too soon to qualify the break and enters as hate crimes but they are continuing to investigate.

Val Morin's newly elected mayor, Serge St-Hilaire, said the town's Jewish community has long roots there -- it was established in the 1940s -- and the vandalism in no way reflects the town.

"It's really an isolated incident," he said. "I don't think people should start thinking Val Morin and its people are mean to the point of saying we don't like our Jewish community. That's just nonsense."