While a number of kosher stores and synagogues were vandalized and looted in the uptown Los Angeles neighborhood of Fairfax last week following the killing of George Floyd, Magen Am, a licensed non-profit security group based in Los Angeles, worked to help protect individuals in need, according to an Algemeiner report.
The group was tasked with a number of objectives, including responding to calls about suspicious persons or vehicles, being present when home or businesses owners feel threatened, helping Hatzalah ambulances into areas with rioting and delivering refreshments to US police and National Guardsmen.
Initially starting as a nonprofit whose mission was one of self-defense, it has since become a community security force.
“Our main goal is the protection of life and that includes everybody,” said Yossi Eilfort, a co-founder of Magen Am.
“Fortunately, we have not been engaged in any violence, but we have deescalated and deterred potential threats, at times politely escorting some people out of the neighborhood,” Eilfort noted, describing his experience during the rioting.
Commenting on the future of his security group, Elifort said “we’re just looking to bridge the gap to cover from the time when there is a call for help to the time that law enforcement arrives.”
It was reported that the group responded to about ten reports of home break-ins, fielded hundreds of WhatsApp requests from community members, and delivered cans of pepper spray.
Magen Am was also reported to have fended off vandals who wanted to deface and loot the Shaarei Tefila synagogue in the Fairfax neighborhood of Los Angeles.
Despite Magen Am's efforts, some of the synagogues damaged as a result of vandalism, graffiti and looting by protesters included Congregation Kehilas Yaakov, also known as Rabbi Gershon Bess Shul, and Tiferes Tzvi (Rabbi Ganzweig Shul), both also located in the Fairfax district of Los Angeles. Similarly, Congregation Beth Israel, one of the oldest synagogues in Los Angeles, was defaced with antisemitic graffiti that read "F**k Israel" and "Free Palestine" scrawled along its walls.
Commenting on the state of the district, Eilfort said that “thankfully no Jewish stores were destroyed, although we are still very unhappy at the damage that occurred.”
Director of North County Chabad Center and spiritual leader of Congregation Beth Meir HaCohen in Yorba Linda, Rabbi David Eliezrie, commended the group's work, posting on Facebook: “This week 5 synagogues, 3 Jewish Schools, numerous Jewish businesses … were vandalized. Friends and relatives have told me of numerous break-ins, home invasions, and threats to life and property. This only subsided after volunteer Jewish security patrols began monitoring violence block by block.”
Eliezrie added that “[he] never imagined that, in California, Jews would fear for their lives because of open antisemitism,”
The group has 38 trained members, and operates in the Fairfax, La Brea, and Pico-Robertson neighborhoods of Los Angeles.