Rabbi: "We must" have armed security in synagogues

Much of the cable news coverage in the aftermath of the Tree of Life Synagogue attack focused on how local rabbis were rejecting President Trump’s suggestion that they could do with some armed security in the temples. This was of a piece with attitudes of many leaders in the Pittsburgh region for some reason, from the mayor to the school board. But that opinion is clearly not a unanimous one across the board.

Not all that far away, in New York City, another rabbi with plenty of experience in security is taking a different tone. Rabbi Gary Moskowitz told the local CBS outlet that having armed security in this day and age is almost a requirement.

The tragedy in Pittsburgh has many people talking about whether armed guards should be used to protect congregants in houses of worship.

Rabbi Gary Moskowitz says there is no question about it.

“Yes. For sure. We must,” the security consultant told CBS2’s Scott Rapoport.

Rabbi Moskowitz is president of American Security Council. He’s also a martial arts expert and a former New York City police officer.

Moskowitz specializes in offering safe firearms training to synagogues. He describes how he instructs students, “how to draw the weapon. How to shoot while you’re in motion. How to shoot while they’re in motion. How to make sure you don’t hit bystanders.” It’s pretty much the standard fare for any firearms safety training program with an eye toward security, but being both a former police officer and martial arts expert, in addition to being a rabbi, gives him a unique perspective to address these issues with congregations in synagogues.

For those still bucking the issue in Pittsburgh, the decision is obviously up to them in the end. But Moskowitz does pose one pertinent question: “I hope they never have to use it, but if you don’t have a gun, how are you going to fight back against someone shooting at you?”

That’s what it comes down to in the end. The world has changed in recent decades and crazy people with access to the internet occasionally go out and do terrible things. That includes shootings in what should rightly be the most peaceful and secure settings in our communities… our churches and temples. And if somebody comes in with a gun and there are no police or armed security personnel around, your options are limited. Sometimes fatally so.