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Jews For The Preservation of Firearms Ownership, Inc.
P.O. Box 270143
Hartford, WI 53027

Phone (800) 869-1884
Fax (425) 451-3959

November 18, 2001

Jewish Insanity in the Great Lakes and Golden States

by Rabbi R. Mermelstein

The Jewish Sabbath each week is a 25-hour period of time intended for both rest and spiritual reflection. As G-d rested after the sixth day of Creation, we also rest. The goal in Sabbath observance is the renewal of the body and soul after six days of labor. We refrain from many sorts of activities that would distract us from achieving this all-important rekindling of our temporal and spiritual existence.

We are to put aside our worldly cares and take stock of what is truly important: our relationship with G-d, quality time spent with family, prayer and Torah study. We are instructed by Jewish law to not even discuss mundane matters -- business, bills coming due, or even things we plan to do after the conclusion of this holiest of days. That's the concept, at least.

This week's Sabbath bringing the pleasures of disassociation from the world and its worries was not to be. Not for me.

It began with a letter to our Ask the Rabbi column from a man in Michigan.

This gentleman, a Jew, wrote that he had recently been granted permission from the lords in the Michigan state legislature to apply for and receive a permit to carry a concealed weapon for self-defense. He obviously cleared the criminal background check and probably had to pass some sort of firearms training and safety course.

But that wasn't the end of his application and permit process.

In order to receive additional permission to legally carry his sidearm into a house of worship, as stipulated by Michigan state law, he needed to obtain a consent decree from the rabbi of his synagogue.

Now, that very same synagogue's rabbis had furiously lobbied the state legislature against the issuance of concealed carry permits. That was neither disturbing nor surprising to me. The same old Jewish ghetto victim mentality was alive and kicking in the Great Lake State.

Having lost their battle to annul the Torah-mandated obligation to defend life against violent aggression in the legislative arena the four rabbis of this synagogue set upon the "something is better than nothing" option, childish spite and vindictiveness in this case, and refused to give their approval to CCW holders to bring their defensive tools onto the premises.

In my reply to this Michigan Jew and CCW holder I asked him to forward the names and telephone numbers of these "rabbis". With grim determination to drive some common sense through their heads I managed to get one of them on the line.

The conversation, this past Friday morning, went like this: "Hello, Rabbi (name deleted). My name is Rabbi Reuven Mermelstein. I am calling from Los Angeles on behalf of one of your synagogue members."

"Yes, Rabbi Mermelstein, how can I help you? Who are you calling about and why?"

"It's quite a serious matter, Rabbi _______. This congregant of yours is legally permitted to carry a firearm for self- defense anywhere in the state of Michigan except for your synagogue. You must certainly be aware of the Torah obligation to preserve life, yet you deny him the permission to fulfill this obligation inside your building. Jewish law alone should determine your synagogue's policies, not your political leanings or your personal dislike of firearms. How do you explain this?"

"Rabbi Mermelstein, I am familiar with the individual about whom you are calling. He has already written to us requesting that we reverse our decision. I am not comfortable discussing this matter. For one thing, we have a large crowd of worshippers and many small children. We have hired private security personnel to be present outside our synagogue during services. So, you see, there is no reason for anyone to have a gun in our building!"

"No, Rabbi _______, I don't quite see your point. If he has received proper training in the safe use of firearms and is trusted elsewhere to be armed, even in large crowds, why should a synagogue be different? And he carries his firearm to and from synagogue activities. What should he do with it when he comes to worship? Check it at the door with the bartender?!" (I didn't raise my voice. The sages of the Talmud observed, "L'chakima b'ramiza, l'shatya b'kormiza." -- "A wise person will take a subtle hint. To make an idiot understand requires the use of a fist." Medrash Mishlei, Chapter 22)

"Rabbi Mermelstein, he can leave his gun in his car" (This exchange was going nowhere very fast.)

"Thank you for the enlightenment, Rabbi _______. A gut Shabbos (A pleasant Sabbath)."

And I hung up the phone with disgust. As the line I am so fond of quoting from the syndicated comic strip of years ago, Pogo, "We have met the enemy and he is us."

I sent an e-mail to the Jew in Michigan advising him to either ignore the synagogue's required permission slip and carry his sidearm anyway or find another place to pray. Or pray at home as a last resort.

Seething with anger and frustration, thinking of the countless hours I've given voluntarily to Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership in addition to the many more hours given gratis by other JPFO contributors, especially the Herculean efforts of Aaron Zelman, JPFO Executive Director, I ended my final work day of the week and entered into what should have been a restful and renewing Sabbath. Fat chance. The one day when I can sit and enjoy meals with my family, discuss Torah topics and test our youngest son on what he learned during the week in cheder (full time Orthodox Jewish day school), even my wife noticed my pent up annoyance and asked what was gnawing at me. After hearing all I've related here, she could only shake her head in disbelief. On a technicality, I desecrated the holy Sabbath.

Thank you, Rabbi _______ in Michigan. If you read this, know with all the certainty in the world that you in fact lost this battle. I intend to redouble my efforts to work at eradicating from your ilk the disingenuous, cavalier attitude toward the value of life and the corruption of our Torah and Jewish law.

Another irritation was chafing me this past week, too. The Orthodox day school my son attends? The administration sent a letter home with each child to inform parents that the school has retained the services of a private security firm "to ensure the safety of the children". There will be a one-time levy of $125.00 on each family to help cover the estimated expense of $100,000.00. Will these rental cops be armed? Yes! With walkie-talkies! Thank G-d; my child's safety is assured.

For no money at all I could recruit volunteer local marksmen to take positions at strategic locations on the school buildings' rooftops to cover every square inch of the property with scoped high-power rifles and keep my $125!

Hopefully the walkie-talkies have built-in small screen televisions to keep this gaggle of minimum wage ne'er-do-well Keystone Cops alert and properly entertained as they make their patrols.

And if the walkie-talkies have housings made of cast iron they could be used as hurled projectiles if the next Buford O. Furrow, the hate-filled monster who sprayed between 60 and 70 rounds into a room filled with children attending day care activities, wounding three children, a teenage girl, and a 68-year-old woman in the Los Angeles North Valley Jewish Community on August 11, 1999, G-d forbid makes an unscheduled appearance.

The work of JPFO is far, far from finished.

Rabbi R. Mermelstein

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