'Rabbis, get your dummy knives out, the simulation is starting'

European rabbis given self defense course at Berlin conference.

March 2, 2016 16:37
2 minute read.

European rabbis learn self-defense in Berlin conference. . (photo credit: DANA SOMBERG)


Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief


Rabbi Menachem Margolin, Head of the Center for European Rabbis, opened the Conference of European Rabbis in Berlin in a surprising manner on Wednesday.

"Everyone, pick up a dummy knife so that we can simulate assaults," he said. "It is important that the Jewish communities of Europe view their rabbis as examples, that they know how to protect themselves."

Be the first to know - Join our Facebook page.

The library of the Berlin Chabad House was cleared of tables for the event. Instead of studying Torah, 150 rabbis gathered to undergo a course in self-defense. According to them, they simply had no choice.

"The message we're trying to convey," Margolin explained, "is that we won't cut back on security in the Jewish communities of Europe. But rather, we are expanding it."

"You guys aren't used to this sort of activity, but we'll show them that we're not weak," said Lior Inbar, who was leading the workshop. "If someone tries to steal your wallet, give it to them. The point here is to learn how to cope with anti-Semitism."

Inbar demonstrated to the rabbis how to neutralize an assaulter.

He split up conference participants into pairs - one taking on the role of victim, the other, the attacker. The attackers were armed with  dummy-knifes and instructed to yell racist slurs at their victims like "dirty Jew."


According to the rabbis, the simulations were based on real experiences.

"We're used to it," said Rabbi Israel Yaacov Lichtenstein of England, "I'm used to having slurs such as 'dirty Jew' being hurled my way as I walk to synagogue on Shabbat. And I'm not talking about a rural town - I'm talking about London. There are whole areas that I advise my community members to avoid entering. It's clear to us. We're used to it and it's sad that we are. It wasn't always like this, we used to be more free. Once we could walk around freely with a Kippa, today we hide it under a hat."

The rabbis practiced stabbing-attack scenarios as well as potential kidnappings; They think it is only a matter of time until such scenarios become reality.

Rabbi Jacobs,  the Chief Rabbi of Holland, pulled out a black-device from his pocket. "Look," he said, "this is a GPS given to me by the Dutch police so they know where I am. Sounds ridiculous, right? But this is our reality. We're under tight security. I report my whereabouts to the police because there are threats on the Jewish community."

"Anti-Semitism is ever-present," concluded Margolin. "It's not that we're learning self-defense in order to start security patrols in our communities - we trust the government establishments of our home countries - but we also need to give our community members a sense of security that has long been lacking."

Join Jerusalem Post Premium Plus now for just $5 and upgrade your experience with an ads-free website and exclusive content. Click here>>

Related Content

October 19, 2018
Tens of thousands of documents reveal Argentina helped Nazi war criminals