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'What were they thinking?': Ottawa Rabbi reacts to fashion shoot at Holocaust monument

The National Holocaust Monument is seen before the official opening ceremony in Ottawa, Wednesday, September 27, 2017. The team of volunteers who raised half the funds for the new National Holocaust Monument are hopeful a solution can be found to allow the site to remain open in winter, even if it's not possible this year. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

OTTAWA – Rabbi Reuven Bulka is at least pleased to see the Ottawa community condemning a fashion shoot, which took place at the National Holocaust Monument.

A photo was posted to Instagram on Sunday by Montreal fashion designer Michèle Beaudoin, showing a model posing in front of the monument.

Bulka told The Rick Gibbons Show on 1310 NEWS, the structure serves as a reminder that we should not take our religious freedoms for granted. He added that we are only decades past one of the worst atrocities in human history, and the monument was also built in remembrance of all the lives lost in the Holocaust.

The Rabbi said if he saw someone holding such a photo shoot, at what he called such an inappropriate place, he would have questions for them.

“I would say, ‘Tell me why you did it here. For God sakes, you’re in the nation’s capital, there are so many wonderful places where you could do a shoot like this,'” said Bulka. “I don’t know exactly what the nature of the pictures were. I’ve heard that they were more appropriate for the beach than anything else, but there’s beaches here too! You could have done it there.”

Listen to the full conversation with Reporter Sara Buchan and Rabbi Reuven Bulka:

He explained that if Beaudoin’s goal was to pick a location “so gross” that she knew it would get people angry and talking about her work, then she succeeded, although he doubts that was her motivation.

“But thank God for a public which has stood up and said, this is not appropriate.” Bulka continued, “It’s not a crime, but it’s not appropriate — use your brains.”

His hope for the future is that members of the public will step in to say something when they see any kind of injustice unfolding in front of them.

“Make sure that if you see, even a snippet of insensitivity or insult toward someone, because of whatever, what their faith is — take the appropriate action of reminding them that you’re blessed to live in a country like this, [and that they should not] take advantage of it, [but] use it as an opportunity to grow and to share.”

Beaudoin has since made her Instagram account private.