The Oct. 7 Hamas terror attack in Israel and alarming social media threats that followed is prompting many American Jews to reconsider their tradition resistance to owning or using guns.
Firearm instructors and Jewish security groups across the country say they’ve been flooded with new clientele — and gun shop owners in Florida recount they’ve seen more Jews purchase firearms in recent weeks than ever before, NBC News reported.
“We’ve definitely seen a tremendous increase in religious Jewish people, Orthodox people, purchasing firearms,” David Kowalsky, owner of Florida Gun Store in Hollywood that offers firearms training classes, told the outlet. “I’ve seen a surge in interest in individual training as well as group training.”
Kowalsky, who is Jewish, told the outlet local synagogues had asked him in the past week to host gun training seminars and shooting sessions — with most participants new to guns.
“These are mothers, teachers, the majority of them are mostly people who have never interacted with firearms or thought about owning them,” Kowalsky said. “There’s a safety concern. I think people are nervous about what’s going on and what can happen.”
Henya Chein, 25, an Orthodox Jewish artist and mother of two— whose husband bought a handgun after they moved to Florida from New York last year — told NBC News that she went to a gun safety seminar at her synagogue followed by a session at a shooting range following the terror attack.
“Even at the range, I just wanted to drop the gun and run back home,” she told the outlet. “I was so scared, and I’m terrified of it.”
But she said she felt “forced to do it because Jewish people are not safe anywhere now.”
In many Jewish communities, gun ownership is a taboo subject, the news outlet noted.
“The majority of Jews in the country historically have been liberal on the left, pro-gun reform, pro-gun control, opposed to personal gun ownership,” political strategist and Orthodox rabbi Hank Sheinkopf told NBC News. “Jews with guns were always seen as an odd event.”
Now, Sheinkopf added, it seems the long held view — of the United States being the “one place in the world where Jews are safe — is coming to an end.”
Pro-Hamas extremists and neo-Nazis have inundated social media platforms with calls for attacks on Jewish communities and other targets in the United States and Europe, NBC noted. Muslim Americans have also been targeted in recent weeks.
Endi Tennenhaus, 41, a preschool director and mother of seven living in Hollywood, Fla., says she helped organize a gun safety training for women at her synagogue. Her husband, the synagogue’s rabbi, had already organized a men’s group.
“I said, ‘What about the women? I’m sure some of the women would love to do that as well,’” Tennenhaus told NBC news. “If all of our husbands are buying guns, we want to make sure we also know how to use them and also to be able to protect our children and be able to keep guns safe in our homes.”
Eilon Even-Esh, a Marine vet living in Florida, has hosted a series of emergency safety and gun training sessions for the Jewish community in his county. He says calls have been nonstop.
“Some are concerned, and some are angry,” Even-Esh told the outlet, adding: “These are regular people that want to feel safe.”
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