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September 24, 2015 6:27 am

New Organization Aims to Help Jews Bolster Their Self-Defense

avatar by Ronn Torossian

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Self-defense for Jews is the purpose of The Legion. Photo: Krav Maga Practitioners/Facebook.

Self-defense for Jews is the purpose of The Legion. Photo: Krav Maga Practitioners/Facebook.

A new self-defense organization has been founded in the Jewish community Sadly, this type of group is necessary during the times of turbulence that Jews are facing worldwide.

Called “The Legion,” it is the brainchild of the creators of the activist organization Fuel for Truth, and it s aim is to provide self-defense and counter-terrorism training to New Yorkers. 

At a recent presentation I attended, the charismatic and enthusiastic founder of Fuel for Truth and The Legion, Jon Loew, explained the need for this new group: “Many members of the Jewish community are feeling physically vulnerable for the first time in their lives, and we are responding to that. We are teaching Jews basic self-defense training.”

Since its founding in 2001, Fuel for Truth has been highly regarded for its achievements in the Israel-advocacy space, educating young Americans on what has been happening in the Middle East.

Last week’s first public event for The Legion drew more than 200 people. It opened with a rousing speech by Master Sergeant Terry Schappert (U.S. Army Special Forces), a Green Beret and host of several popular TV shows about military training. Schappert (who isn’t Jewish) stated clearly: “My fellow Christians don’t believe you will stand up and protect yourselves. Prove them wrong.”

At the end of the night, attendees were encouraged to apply for training — and apply they did; to date, the organization has received more than 120 applicants. But due to its limited resources, the organization will train only 50 students in its first nine-month program.   

The Legion hopes to create a deterrent capability, so that Jews are not perceived as easy targets.

When the situation in Gaza and Israel intensified in the summer of 2014, there was a clear spike in antisemitic attacks globally, and especially in New York, which served as the catalyst to set The Legion into motion.

Loew said, “Our government and law enforcement agencies do a great job defending our country from attacks of all kinds, but we can’t expect them to defend every citizen in every situation. People must take steps to protect themselves. There is a need for The Legion. There is a need for young, strong Jews to protect synagogues and Jewish institutions, and Jews on campuses. ”

Lowe believes that just as France and the U.K. have seen a rise in antisemitism, it is inevitable that the same will occur here. Let’s hope not. But if it does, Jews should be protected.

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  • Allison

    William we are trained by world experts. Experts that work with military and law enforcement all over the world. We are training Jews in self protection, not as vigilantes. We are young professionals, singles, newly marrieds, students and families…all who understand the reality of the world these days. And refuse to be weak…mentally or physically or spiritually.

    • Guillaume Jacques

      How can I get in touch to sign up? I’d like to learn more about the organization before I apply or take classes (hopefully you could explain a few things).

  • Allison

    Gary W…The Legion has one mission only. Self protection. We do not put our members to work guarding synagogues or rallies etc. The two organizations are different. Before you get defensive, do your homework. In fact, the two organizations have discussed how to potentially work together in the future. We also have a few members who went through CSS training. Your approach is one of divisiveness. Maybe try altering your perception first before you comment publicly. You’re everything that’s wrong with our community.

  • William B

    It is so needed today and unappreciated. I hope this group is a model for responsibility and not mere violence and vigilantism. A group that is a presence of force and respect, that helps instill comfort for Jews with the sense that we care for one another, will be well received. My shul has the Community Security Service and they are great people.

  • There has been a group training people to secure their synagogues and temples, as well as Jewish functions, since 2007. The CSS (Community Security Service) has over 1000 volunteers currently serving in their own synagogues providing security, awareness, and a strong noticeable presence in five states, including New York and New Jersey, where it is concentrated.

    The CSS members are trained in self defense by highly skilled and decorated masters, and they are trained in incident prevention, abatement and detection by DHS, military, police and experienced security and counter terrorism professionals.

    The modus operandus of CSS is detection and prevention, not engagement – whihc is a last resort. Its members are tightly aligned with local police and work closely with city, state and federal authorities, as well as with Israeli security details when needed.

    It has been growing and the requests for new houses of worship signups has nearly doubled in the past six months.

    Maybe the legion should look to CSS for guidance, and possibly partnership, as Jews do not need multitudes of groups already doing the same work. We need strength in numbers and ideals, not divisions.