Hundreds of Jewish people in America have rushed to undertake training to learn how to shoot, after an attack on a synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA on October 27 that killed 11 people. A private company offering "Israeli tactical shooting techniques" has been inundated with hundreds of requests in the days following the shooting.
"There is no question that Jews are under threat in America. Would you say to soldiers on the front line, 'just lay down your guns and let the enemy kill you?' No. So Jews need to be armed," said Yonatan Stern, the founder of Cherev Gidon Israeli Tactical Training Academy, which offers classes in Pennsylvania and Arizona. Stern, a former officer of the Israel Defense Forces, created the academy six years ago, predicting, he says, that there would be attacks on the Jewish community in the United States.
The shooting at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh was the deadliest attack on Jews in America’s history. Stern says that his organisation has received more requests for training from Jews in the days since the attack than in the entire time the academy has been running.
Normally, the academy offers training with different firearms – rifles, pistols, shotguns and Uzi submachine guns – from a basic level to advanced. But since the shooting, Cherev Gidon has focused primarily on a specific course that deals with how to respond to an active shooter in a synagogue. The course teaches many of the same skills that are taught in other classes, but with added situational details: how to immobilise an attacker in a location where there are a lot of civilians packed into a crowded space, for example.