A New York City gun-toting rabbi is campaigning for Jewish congregants to arm themselves in the wake of the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting, which saw an anti-Semitic gunman kill 11 people Saturday.
Rabbi Gary Moskowitz, a former cop and longstanding proponent for armed congregants, met on Sunday with members of his organization, the International Security Coalition of Clergy, to discuss how to publicize their campaign, The New York Post reported.
“You must have it,” Moskowitz said of the call to arm Jews in synagogues. “A guy comes in with a gun, and what can they do? Throw chairs at them? We’re sitting ducks here.”
It has been a fiercely debated topic over the years.
Jewish Action magazine pointed toward the Torah for direction, noting there are halachic issues arising from bringing a weapon into a synagogue.
Matthew Chase, an attorney and devout Jew, noted the conflict of interest.
“I certainly don’t want to find myself staging a gun battle in my sanctuary,” he wrote for The Daily Caller. “But would I prefer a massacre of my fellow congregants? Never again.”
Moskowitz said that “several people in every synagogue should have the right to carry a premise permit,” according to The Post.
He has gained the support of other rabbis, including Rabbi Joseph Potasnik, executive vice president of the New York Board of Rabbis.
“I’m in favor,” he said. “I would like to see some protection. It could serve as a deterrent.”
Rabbi Dr. Tzemah Yoreh, leader of The City Congregation, admitted to The Post that he felt conflicted on the matter but understood the call to arm congregants.
“On the one hand, we want to celebrate openness and freedom of worship and have people come into sanctuaries and not be impeded,” Yoreh said. “On the other hand, people in my community are really scared.”