I live in New York City and believe in the strongest measures of gun control. They make New York statistically the safest metropolis in the United States of America. What happened in Pittsburgh this Saturday convened me: all Jews should get guns. I still believe in strong gun laws, but whatever gun anyone else has, Jews must also have. In states and cities where guns are permitted, every synagogue and Jewish school should have people armed to their teeth.
Hate crimes against Jews in the United States exceed the hate crimes against any other group and yet the protections seem to be lower. According to the FBI the number of hate crimes against Jews stands at 54%, a number that seems to continue to grow. While law enforcement has been outstandingly dedicated, communities with better self-policing to improve their security. Making sure that every synagogue and every school have trained individuals who are vetted and dedicated to the security their community members, will help boost the security of the Jewish community during these difficult times.
My grandfather, Rabbi Baruch Poupko, served as a rabbi in Squirrel Hill Pittsburgh for more than 60 years. While I did not get to visit Pittsburgh often, the tranquility, peace, and true feeling of community Jews shared with the greater Pittsburgh population were evident. Stories of hate, anti-Semitism, or violence were not to be heard. And yet, we have come to that point in history where things change. Jews have been around for long enough to know that stability is never eternal. There are ups and downs. While the greater population across America is tolerant, kind, and peaceful, the rise of demented and hateful individuals should concern us all.
Making sure that Jews are heavily armed and trained — something that should be well known to any attacked — can help ensure the safety of Jews in America.
In 1790, George Washington wrote to the Jews of Newport R.I. the following letter:
“May the Children of the Stock of Abraham, who dwell in this land, continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other Inhabitants; while every one shall sit in safety under his own vine and figtree, and there shall be none to make him afraid. May the father of all mercies scatter light and not darkness in our paths, and make us all in our several vocations useful here, and in his own due time and way everlastingly happy.”
Today in Pittsburgh, that prayer was shattered.
We pray for the day that hope is restored. Until then, we must be prepared.