Gun-Toting God Squad: Rabbis Pack Heat

(NY Post)
Photo: Front page of the New York Post, Sept. 4, 2009.

Go into a synagogue in Queens these days and you may find rabbis learning how to shoot firearms and execute karate kicks.

Story Contributed by WCBS 2 New York Reporter Sean Hennessey

NEW YORK (CBS) Some might call it the "God squad," others a proactive approach to safety.

A rabbi in Queens is beginning a training program aimed at keeping places of worship worry free.

Inside a Kew Gardens temple is a team of experts whose goal is to make synagogues safer by teaching martial arts, how to use a gun and protecting worshipers if someone came in with guns blazing.

It's the brainchild of Rabbi Gary Moscowitz, a former New York City cop who said synagogues are natural targets.

"It comes from the FBI. Just call the FBI. They issue terror alerts to synagogues on a regular basis here," Moscowitz said.

Moscowitz pointed to this spring's attempted bombing of two Bronx synagogues as an example for the need.

"This is an insurance policy. I hope it never has to go into effect," Moscowitz said.

Now he's put together a team that's selling safety because police can only be in so many places.

"Even if they were parked in front of the synagogue, they hear a firefight. We'll be dead," Moscowitz said.


"Our idea is you can't be spiritual if you're dead. You have to be able to fight back to live another day," martial arts expert Stuart Rosenberg said.

To help with protection, Moscowitz is pushing state lawmakers to allow up to five people at houses of worship to carry a gun, but only after training.

When asked of all this precaution is truly necessary, Moscowitz said, "I believe so."

So does another rabbi whose synagogue has signed up.

"God forbid and God save us that someone would try to attack us. Why not let us know the skill in advance and be prepared just in case," said Rabbi Mordechai Hecht.

Sean Hennessey joined WCBS-TV as a general assignment reporter in March 2007. Hennessey has covered a number of breaking news stories for CBS 2 including the Virginia Tech shootings, and has traveled to Washington, D.C., for various national stories that have New York ties. He comes to CBS 2 after a ten-year reporting and anchoring career at WHDH-TV in Boston.