A tactical defense school in Pennsylvania is seeing unprecedented levels of enrollment following the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre on Saturday - and the vast majority of those enrolling are Jews.
Reuters reported that in the past 72 hours, the Cherev Gidon Israeli Tactical Defense Academy near Scranton, Pennsylvania has been contacted by hundreds of people, and all but 3 or 4 of these are Jewish.
“The fact is, we’re at war,” said Yonatan Stern, a veteran officer of the IDF who directs the academy. “We want every Jew in America armed.”
Stern, a former resident of Kiryat Arba in the Judea region of Israel, served in the Netzah Yehuda IDF battalion tailored for the religious needs of haredi soldiers, and has lived in the US for 12 years. For six years he has built up his training school where American civilians and law enforcement officials learn the art of Israeli tactical defense.
He has explained that he was motivated to set up his training school as a result of attacks he experienced as a civilian living in Kiryat Arba.
“I was involved in a lot of combat instances, a lot of gun battles. I saw a lot of action, a lot of people being shot, people being killed, and that's something that really motivated me to train others to protect themselves because I really don't want to see anyone being a victim.”
Following the synagogue attack on Saturday, Stern urged American Jews not to “ignore the writing on the wall.”
"For years we have been telling American Jews that they need to get armed and trained to defend their communities against violent anti-Semitic attacks," he wrote on Cherev Gidon's Facebook page.
"Many listened to us, but sadly many others preferred to bury their heads in the sand and ignore our warnings. Today, our predictions came true right here in our own state of Pennsylvania and too many have had to pay the ultimate price.
"Do not ignore the writing on the wall: Buy a gun, learn how to use it, and carry everywhere you go, especially to Synagogue!"