Gun ownership in California’s Jewish community is spiking as Jews take self-defense into their own hands while the war in Israel continues raging, according to a rabbi who trains the community on gun safety.
“Magen Am’s mission is to train and empower the community to deter and respond to security threats. We’re trying to give everybody the tool to be empowered to protect themselves,” Los Angeles-based Rabbi Yossi Eilfort said in a video produced by the NRA exclusively obtained by Fox News Digital.
Eilfort is an NRA instructor and founder of Magen Am USA, the only Jewish, nonprofit organization licensed on the West Coast to provide armed security services.
Magen Am, which operates in LA as well as Phoenix, trains volunteers and community members in extensive classes on gun safety, hand-to-hand self-defense, de-escalation, verbal tactics and the use of intermediate weapons such as Tasers or batons.
The video features a few women who Eilfort and Magen Am have trained on gun safety, as well as security personnel who work with the company to strengthen protection around Jewish institutions, such as schools and synagogues.
“Magen Am means ‘nation’s shield.’ I like to say we’re like a shield. Were about 30-30-30: Where one-third is hired professionals dealing with institutional security; one-third dealing with community training; and then one-third is working with government law enforcement,” Eilfort, who is also a former MMA fighter, explained in the video of how Magen Am operates.
War broke out in Israel on Oct. 7 when the terrorist group Hamas launched attacks on the nation, which sparked protests and antisemitic rhetoric stateside as supporters of Palestine took to the streets of cities such as New York and Los Angeles.
“I feel like a target. Explosives have been thrown at the synagogue right behind my house,” one woman trained by Magen Am said in the video.
“[It’s] unbelievable, the fact that these people can be on the side of terrorists,” another woman said.
Eilfort said that in 2022, Magen Am had roughly 950 calls from the Jewish community for security services, which exploded to more than 1,200 calls between October and last month.
The NRA’s executive vice president and CEO Wayne LaPierre lauded Eilfort and Magen Am’s efforts training thousands of people on self-defense in comment to Fox News Digital.
“Rabbi Yossi and Magen Am have always been at the forefront of empowering and protecting their community, a commitment that took on even greater urgency after the horrific October 7 massacre. They’ve trained thousands of men and women in their community, including many first-time gun owners, while also protecting everything from synagogues to schools,” LaPierre said.
“As an NRA instructor, Rabbi Yossi embodies the Association’s commitment to self-defense and community safety. We are proud to count him as one of the NRA’s 125,000 dedicated instructors – the unsung heroes who help train Americans to safeguard themselves, their loved ones, and their communities every day,” he added in comment to Fox Digital.
Fox News Digital also spoke with the owner of Beverly Hills Guns, Russell Stuart, who has known Eilfort for years and said there has been an explosion of California Jews rushing to purchase firearms for self-defense as the war in Israel continues and instances of antisemitism increase stateside.
“The firearm sales have been absolutely through the roof. It has been a 3X minimum increase in typical sales around this time of year,” Stuart told Fox News Digital in a phone interview last week. “But what’s been more concerning to me … from my humanistic side, is listening to people say that this is a second Holocaust. Listening to people say they’ve never seen just the outright Jewish hatred in the streets from people that have no idea what they’re even talking about.”
Stuart explained that he and his team speak with each customer who comes to the store to go over why they want to purchase a firearm, which has left employees shocked by the stories they hear from Jewish clients fearful of attacks.
“You don’t even see a gun until we’ve had a discussion, and I kind of know where your head is at,” Stuart explained of how he and his team interact with clients. “And hearing these stories has probably been the most gut-wrenching thing because – it’s almost like a psychologist – listening to hundreds and hundreds of horrific stories, including family members with kids who are still serving in the IDF.”
He said his recent influx of Jewish customers has said that they are specifically buying firearms out of “fear.”
“There’s a difference between wanting to defend your family by owning a gun and exercising your Second Amendment rights, and coming in because you are afraid. And you are afraid of being you because you were born under a certain religious or geographical or ideological designation. That strikes fear into you,” Stuart said.
California gun laws are some of the most strict in the nation, and customers in Beverly Hills do not have easy access to shooting ranges, with Stuart explaining the closest range is at least 30 minutes away.
“That’s a big, big, big part of what I love about what Yossi is doing, is that he is bringing the training to them. They’re using a lot of simulator training and getting the word out of just, ‘Think about your gun, dry fire your gun at home. You don’t always need to have the bullet leave the gun to practice fundamentals.’ And he’s really been a leader at that in the Jewish community. I’m incredibly proud to know him,” Stuart said.
The women featured in the NRA video highlighted that with Eilfort’s training, they are “ready to protect ourselves and do what needs to be done.”
“Going in, I felt kind of powerless. I felt kind of scared,” one woman said. “And at the end of the session, I feel empowered. I feel stronger, and I feel I can better defend my family and myself.”