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June 24, 2019 2:36 pm

Amid Antisemitism Surge, Boston-Area Rabbi Urges Congregants to Bring Guns to Services

avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

A man prays at a makeshift memorial outside the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Oct. 31, 2018. Photo: Reuters / Cathal McNaughton.

A Boston-area rabbi is urging members of his congregation to bring guns to services to fend off potential antisemitic attackers.

According to WBUR, in the wake of the Tree of Life massacre in Pittsburgh and the Poway Chabad shooting, Rabbi Dan Rodkin of Shaloh House in Brighton decided that measures such as security cameras and panic buttons were inadequate.

“We can’t think, ‘I’m just praying, and God will save me,’” he said. “No, we need to take care of situations ourselves.”

Several of his congregants are veterans and retired policemen, and have agreed to come armed to services. Rodkin is giving recommendation letters to others so they can obtain gun licenses.

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Rodkin is also planning to procure a personal weapon for himself.

“I know it sounds horrible, but I think it’s a very logical approach for the situation we’re in,” he said. “I don’t want people to have guns. But I think to protect our families, it’s a necessity now.”

“In Judaism, life is the most sacred thing,” Rodkin noted. “Political correctness is important, too, but not as important as a life.”

“So I think whatever it takes to save a life, it is the most important task,” he said.

Regarding how he would act during a potential attack, Rodkin was philosophical, saying, “This is all in God’s hands.”

“I think people who are trained will be better than I, I think. But you never know until you are placed in that situation,” he said.

President of the Massachusetts Board of Rabbis Neal Gold disagreed with Rodkin’s approach, but said, “I understand the impulse of this rabbi who says we want to bring more weapons into the community, because we can’t breathe right now.”

He noted that his own house of worship in the Boston suburb of Newton had security guards for Shabbat morning services.

“We were living on blessed time before, but conversations are happening now that we have to be aware of who is coming through our doors,” Gold explained. “Now, we find ourselves asking: ‘What does this mean for the Jewish community in America?’”

Jeremy Yamin, the director of security and operations at Combined Jewish Philanthropies, also sympathized with the rabbi’s concerns.

“We’re talking about the worst situation that anyone could imagine,” he said. “Federal agents and police officers spend an entire career training for something like this.”

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