An MMA-fighter-turned-rabbi is teaching self defense to his fellow Jewish Americans and instructing them how to handle firearms – and he says his business has been in high demand amid a rise in antisemitism following the outbreak of the Hamas-Israel war earlier this month.
Rabbi Yossi Eilfort is the founder of the nonprofit Magen Am USA, which provides armed security services for schools and shuls in Los Angeles.
Eilfort told Fox News the organization also trains volunteers on gun safety de-escalation, Taser and baton handling and self-defense in California and Arizona.
Magen Am launched in 2017, and since then, Eilfort has seen a rise in the number of Jews in the Los Angeles area turning to their Second Amendment rights for their personal safety, he said.
“We believe in prepared Jews. I think that more people with less training with more guns is more dangerous. I think people with more training is more prepared,” he told Fox News.
Data compiled by the Anti-Defamation League shows reports of antisemitic incidents have increased 217% between 2017 and 2021, according to the news network.
Eilfort said since he began Magen Am, he has also seen an increase in the number of gun-owning Jews in California, including with a spike in just the last few weeks as the Israel-Hamas war has intensified and antisemitism has risen around the globe.
“This has been the biggest spike. We’ve been doing consistent training and keeping things going,” Eilfort told Fox News.
“In the last two weeks, we’ve basically told everybody, ‘We can’t train you today. We’ve been trying to train you for the last couple years. We can’t train you today. But we’re putting out a new schedule.’”
According to Fox News, Eilfort’s nonprofit has so far trained more than 1,000 people.
Magen Am’s security-for-hire team, meanwhile, was called to serve more than 20,000 hours last year alone to keep watch over shuls, schools and Jewish events, the outlet reported.
In the first week of Israel’s war with Hamas Magen Am received 638 calls for its security service – more than half of the nearly 1,000 calls it received in 2022, according to Fox News.
NRA spokesman Billy McLaughlin, in a statement to the news network, praised Eilfort and his nonprofit.
“Americans refuse to be sitting ducks and be rendered vulnerable,” McLaughlin said.
He also added that the Hamas-Israel war has been a “wake-up call” for Americans about their own security.
“Americans witnessed the unspeakable atrocities in Israel, where civilians were mercilessly targeted and butchered by Hamas terrorists,” McLaughlin said. “This serves as a wake-up call and causes many to evaluate their personal safety.”