Photo Credit: courtesy, Cherev Gidon
Cherev Gidon Israeli Tactical Training Academy course in northeastern Pennsylvania

An “Israeli tactical training academy” in northeastern Pennsylvania is teaching American Jews how to fight back when there’s a threat — and that, in fact, they should fight back.

The ‘Cherev Gidon’ Israeli Tactical Training Academy says it has been “bombarded” since Monday with hundreds of inquiries from the media, as well as people asking to book defensive firearms training following the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre this past weekend.

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The flood of requests came following a Facebook announcement by the academy that it would run an ‘Emergency Jewish Armed Defense Seminar’ at its Israeli military training facility this week.

“This will be a full day of live-fire training which will include tactical assault rifle drills, defensive handgun, Krav Maga and knife defense,” the announcement read. “Our goal here is get Jews prepared to defend their Synagogues, so if you can’t afford the full cost of training, don’t worry. We won’t turn anyone away because of a lack of funds. We cannot wait for another Shabbat to pass with Jews unarmed and unprepared in our synagogues.”

A prior post written by academy director Yonatan Stern, slightly more bitter, lamented the slaughter at the synagogue, describing the repeated attempts Cherev Gidon made to warn America’s Jewish community.

“For years we have been telling American Jews that they need to get armed and training to defend their communities against violent antisemitic attacks,” he commented in one of the posts the day after the tragic attack in Pittsburgh.

“Many listened to us, but sadly many others preferred to bury their heads in the sand … Do not ignore the writing on the wall,” he urged. “Buy a gun, learn how to use it and carry everywhere you go, especially to synagogue.”

Stern grew up in Kiryat Arba, served in the IDF Netzach Yehuda Battalion and has been in the United States for 11 years. He built Cherev Gidon, where for the past five years his group of Israeli combat veterans has been teaching American civilians and law enforcement professionals the basics of Israeli tactical firearms use.

“I want to have Jews armed in their synagogues and trained, so that if they see a terrorist or an anti-Semite walking in with a weapon, they’ll know how to neutralize that threat,” Stern says in a video posted on the Cherev Gidon Facebook page.

About 90 percent of his clients are Orthodox Jews from the New York City area, he says.

“We’ve probably trained hundreds of students since we began this program,” he notes in the video. “The number is only growing.”

In a post he wrote prior to the massacre, Stern underlined the point that buying a weapon without learning to use it properly is not only useless – it’s dangerous. But that doesn’t mean a Jew should get a gun, he said.

“Don’t just own a weapon; get trained to properly use it. Refuse to be a victim.”

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.