By Aryeh Levin, COLlive reporter
Ever since the brutal massacre at Chabad of Mumbai in November 2008, the importance of security has been on the minds of many Chabad Shluchim in practically most countries in the world.
While the extent of the security measures is in question – due to lack of funding and the risk of alienating potential members and guests – all are in agreement of its need.
Here is where a pistol may come in handy.
“We rely on G-d and spiritual means of protection, such as tzedakah and mezuzos. Yet, we need to take physical steps to protect ourselves,” says Frank Pomeranz, a member of Chabad of Venice, Florida.
When he first approached his rabbi Sholom Schmerling about wearing a gun to shul, the Shliach asked him to keep it hidden from others.
“Ideally, every Chabad House should have its own security person,” says Pomeranz, who is advocating awareness through his website ChabadSecurity.net.
He found that “some of the liberal-minded men in shul thought it was unnecessary, but soon came around to feeling more comfortable with the idea.
“It actually surprised me that Chabad women adjusted more quickly than the men to this reality,” he noted in an article for the December 2009 Nshei Chabad Newsletter.
In separate instances, two Shluchim from Tennessee and Arizona told COLlive.com that a community member offered them a fully loaded handgun for their personal safety. Both declined.
“It’s a very serious issue,” Steve Sheinberg, Director of Community Security at Anti-Defamation League (ADL), told COLlive.com when asked about rabbis carrying firearms.
“It is a question of who is most qualified, as this is a task with enormous consequences,” he said following a speech at this year’s Kinus Hashluchim in New York.
Jewish destain of weapons dates back to Esau, “blessed” to live on his sword and King David, forbidden to build the Temple “for you are a man of battles and have shed blood.”
A solution might be a program by the “International Security Coalition of Clergy” which teaches martial arts and fighting techniques to rabbis.
But a terror attack this week in Pune, which according to an Indian Minister was intended to hit the nearby Chabad center, proved that won’t be enough.
A program by Israel’s Counter Terrorism Bureau, backed by Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky of Merkos, will begin to train Lubavitchers April 4, 2010, COLlive.com has learned.
The 2 day course is offered free of charge to Shluchim and bochurim (Shiur Bais and Gimmel of Yeshiva Zal) who will be helping Chabad Houses over Pesach.
This is the first time Lubavitch Headquarters is encouraging such proactive action. It is not clear whether the program will be available for Shluchim elsewhere.