This is a unique period in Jewish history. For most of the last two thousand years, Jews were forbidden to practice self-defense. They weren’t allowed to own weapons or be part of an army. We are marking Tisha B’Av, the end of Jewish sovereignty in Judea in 70CE and the beginning of two millennia of persecution.
Jews were required to live at the mercy of their neighbors. They faced unimaginable persecution. While most people only know about the Holocaust, I listed other anti-semitic massacres that happened in the 20th century. Many more happened before that.
I was lucky enough to be born in a time where Jews have self-determination. We have a country, where I know I will never be persecuted for my ethnicity and religion. I grew up never looking down because of who I was. The list above ended when a Jewish state was created. That is a great privilege.
So, what can I do with that privilege? That answer has changed over my life.
As a combat soldier, I knew I had a responsibility to my country. I was what stood between Israel and her enemies, and I had to defend the country in the most moral way possible. Lives depended on me to do the right thing under fire. I had to be willing to go towards danger, and as the oath says “to devote all my energies, and even sacrifice my life, for the protection of the homeland and the liberty of Israel.”
This isn’t just a statement. Israel lost 23, 817 soldiers in battle, and many more have been injured in the line of duty. I am proud of my time as a soldier and grateful I got the chance to be responsible to protect my people. It was a great privilege and one I would gladly do again.
After I was released, I realized I had a new responsibility not just to protect others but to empower others to know how to protect themselves. I couldn’t always be there to save people, but I could teach them how to do it. I could empower others with my privilege. That wasn’t just limited to my country. Here in New York, I have the unique chance to take what I learned from the Jewish state and spread it to the whole world. Unfortunately, it is clear that this is needed.
Hate crimes have been rising badly, and not just in the Jewish world.
In July of 2020, 7 Catholic churches were desecrated across the US., attacking people’s most cherished beliefs.
Women’s risk of violence has increased dramatically during Covid-19, leaving them isolated with their abusers.
22 transgender/gender-nonconforming people were murdered in 2020 , targeted because of bigotry.
1 in 5 children in the USA report being bullied. While this has changed due to isolation, when we return to normal society, it will again become a problem.
I can keep going, but the idea is clear.
Every person and every community deserves to be able to live in peace. Right now, many populations are living in fear.
Persecution doesn’t just physically hurt the direct victims, it hurts the entire community mentally and emotionally. An attacker only has to have one successful attack, and the entire community feels less safe.
I’m grateful to be able to use my privilege and education to help as many communities as I can. I want to reach out to these communities and share my knowledge about self-defense, self-confidence, empowerment, and wellness. I don’t want people to fall into fear or hatred.
I don’t want revenge for what was done to my ancestors. I believe that this training is empowering and enjoyable. I want every person to live the motto of Krav Maga, “so that one may walk in peace.”
Peace in Hebrew has the same root word as for the word complete. We can’t lead a complete life unless we can live our lives with the peace of mind to know we are safe and able to care for ourselves.
I invite communities to reach out to me, I’d love to be able to discuss how I can help. I think of all my ancestors who were denied the chance to do this, because of their ethnicity and religion.
It’s a privilege that I can do so now. Now, I want to put it into action.