Shalom Life | April 19, 2015

European Rabbis Unite to Learn Self-Defense

In an attempt to keep synagogues safe from terror, a conference was held to teach rabbis around Europe self-defense and first aid

By: Caitlin Marceau

Published: February 26th, 2015 in Sports » World

This past Tuesday, in Prague, the Rabbinical Center of Europe and the European Jewish Association held a conference for hundreds of rabbis around the continent. It wasn’t a conference on faith, or religious study, but one on self-defence and first aid.

Recently there has been a significant increase in anti-semitic attacks across Europe. Two high profile cases include the January 9th fatal shooting of four Jewish victims at Paris’ Hyper Cacher kosher supermarket, as well as the fatal attack on a volunteer security guard at a synagogue in Copenhagen. Sadly, the gunman in Copenhagen had shot an individual at a free speech demonstration shortly before the attack at the synagogue, leaving police on high alert and quick to prevent any further casualties at the synagogue.

“It is only because of the earlier shooting that took place in the Copenhagen cafe that police sent several officers to the synagogue, and they were able to return fire and chase the shooter. But the fact is that prior to the earlier incident, there were no police in the synagogue, and the unarmed security guard could have not prevented the terrorist from entering the synagogue and causing even more deaths," explained Rabbi Menachem Margolin, organizer of the conference, in an interview with The Jerusalem Post.

The rabbis at the conference were given different terror attack possibilities, and then shown some of the ways in which they could react. They were also shown basic self-defense, and learned basic first aid to perform until emergency responders arrive on scene by Israelife-United Hatzalah.

"Unfortunately, the vast majority of European Jewish institutions are not provided with sufficient security by their governments,” Rabbi Margolin continued. “This is why we have decided to provide rabbis and Jewish community leaders across the continent with basic knowledge and tools in order for them to be able to provide initial first aid and self-defense during a terror attack.”

Tuesday’s conference aimed to provide rabbis with the tools needed to help keep their synagogues safe. While the conference may seem like a first of it’s kind, here’s hoping there will be many more to help keep people safe.

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