Pittsburgh synagogue massacre: Hundreds of Jews to sign up for gun training in a bid to learn how to protect themselves

The Cherev Gidon Israeli Tactical Defense Academy in Honesdale, Pennsylvania was flooded with hundreds of requests from Jewish people following the mass shooting last month

                            Pittsburgh synagogue massacre: Hundreds of Jews to sign up for gun training in a bid to learn how to protect themselves

After the deadliest attack on Jews in US history at a Pittsburgh synagogue last month, hundreds of Jewish people are heading to the gun range to practice self-defense. The Jewish community has considered the massacre, which claimed the lives of 11 worshippers at the Pittsburgh's Tree of Life synagogue on October 27, a wake-up call for the future, Daily Mail reports.

On October 30, several Jews headed to the Cherev Gidon Israeli Tactical Defense Academy in Honesdale, Pennsylvania, to learn how to handle and shoot a gun in a special one-day crash course. Speaking to Reuters, 28-year-old New Yorker David Ortner said: "When this happens, you get a wake-up call."


During the special Tuesday session at the academy, which was created six years ago and offers classes in Pennsylvania and Arizona, students went through active shooter response drills held in a log cabin on the outdoor shooting range. They were taught how to handle rifles and handguns, how to draw concealed weapons, and how to load and fire AR-15 rifles at bulls-eye targets. Students taking up the course were also taught how to immobilize an attacker in spaces packed with civilians.

In a conversation with the France 24 Observer, academy founder Yonatan Stern, 35, said: "There is no question that Jews are under threat in America. Would you say to soldiers on the front line, 'just lay down your guns and let the enemy kill you?' No. So Jews need to be armed."


Stern revealed that hundreds of requests from interested students inundated his school following the deadly attack. "I have not hired enough instructors given this amount of demand. It's just an unprecedented event," he said. 

According to Stern, it is now more imperative than ever for Jews to arm themselves if they have to protect their dwindling community. "The police can’t protect the Jewish community at all times... We need citizenry who are going to be able to protect themselves in the case of these attacks. I’ve actually been getting calls from police departments all over the country congratulating me, because our getting people armed makes their job easier," he said. 


Violence against Jews is most likely only going to escalate, Stern added. "The climate of anti-Semitism is growing. It’s coming from every direction; from left and right, from black and white. This culture of hate will coalesce into violence. Are we going to be sheep to the slaughter? Are we going to allow them to murder us? Or are we going to stand up and fight? I know what I’m going to do," he said. 

Twenty-year-old Mendel Levine, a chef living in New York, traveled all the way to Pennsylvania to attend the course. He said: "After Pittsburgh, I decided that I couldn't put off firearms training any longer. When I’m 21 I will be applying for a permit to carry a firearm. I would probably get a kind of handgun with hollow-point ammunition...And yes, I hope that if I were in an active shooter situation I would be able to react quickly, to pull the trigger."