On Monday evening, September 11, at the Young Israel of Kew Gardens Hills, the OU and the Queens Jewish Community Council hosted an informative and hands-on program on how to deal with an active shooter in a shul setting. Mr. Yehuda Friedman, OU regional director for Queens and Long Island, and Mrs. Judi Steinig, associate director of community services, coordinated the event.
While no one wants to be confronted with this type of situation, Mr. Friedman explained the necessity of this program, saying, “It is critically important for shuls to think ahead and be adequately prepared. With heightened security awareness and threats facing our community, we feel this type of program is essential.”
Representatives from many shuls in Kew Gardens Hills and some from Long Island participated. Captain Eilon Even-Esh (USMC), Staff Sergeant (IDF), demonstrated various strategies and tactics for how to fight off a shooter entering a shul. He began by explaining that, currently, most security organizations teach the common three-fold strategy in case of an active shooter: run, hide, and fight. The first preference is to run. If this isn’t possible, the next best tactic is to hide and lock down. The last defense is to fight. While security organizations typically go into detail on running, hiding, and locking down, fighting remains a vague concept. Therefore, the focus of this particular program was on exactly how to fight, should that become necessary. Specifically, he explained how to disarm and neutralize an attacker.
Captain Even-Esh had a systematic approach to the training. He started with a common wrist-grab escape and extended that concept to weapon-disarms. He explained that if you are grabbed by someone, you circle around his wrist through the thumb. He then showed step-by-step how to gain control of a gun. He went on to demystify the weapons by explaining the mechanics of the pistol and revolver. He showed how a gun operates using a demonstration gun. He showed the audience how to disarm a gunman through many frightening scenarios: gun to the torso, gun to the back of the head, and gun to the face from a distance. Participants practiced these techniques with a partner until they felt comfortable.
Next, he applied these concepts to an active shooter scenario where the attacker is running through an area and shooting. He explained that while we are taught to be non-violent, this is a rodef situation. In other words, this is a situation where your life is in danger, and the focus is to get the gun out of the attacker’s hand.
As with CPR, these techniques require practice and review. Although we all hope to never need to put this into practice, it is of utmost importance to be prepared. All shuls are encouraged to offer this type of program.
To contact the OU to set up a program like this at your shul, please email Mr. Friedman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Susie Garber