'God is our security'

Many Jerusalem yeshivot still unguarded; lack of funds cited as main problem.

mercaz harav funeral 224 (photo credit: )
mercaz harav funeral 224
(photo credit: )
Three days after a terrorist walked into the Merkaz Harav Yeshiva in Jerusalem and killed eight students, many area yeshivas still have no security at their entrances. At one large yeshiva near the entrance to the city, a Jerusalem Post reporter found the front door wide open, with nobody nearby to keep an eye on who was coming or going. Students at the yeshiva told the Post that their rabbis were beginning to talk about security following Thursday's attack. However, the door to their yeshiva remained unguarded, as do many others in the capital. "It's a big problem," said Menahem, a student at the yeshiva, "but the main thing is to have a relationship with God. He's our security." Other students said that even if the yeshiva took up the matter, it wouldn't change much. "You know how it is in this country," said Shimoni. "The guard would be here for a couple of days, and then he'd be gone." "What we need to do is strengthen ourselves in the ways of Torah," Menahem said. "We're Jews. Without Torah, what's the difference between us and them?" There was also no guard at the front door of a yeshiva in the Geula neighborhood that has more than 200 students. "We agree with the idea of having security," said one of the yeshiva's spokesmen, "but we're taking care of other things right now. It's obviously an issue of money, but in general, we're dealing with other things at the moment." Mike, who also studies in Geula, told the Post his yeshiva also didn't have a security guard at the front door. "We've been discussing different ideas," he said. "Mainly, we want to see if some of the faculty members could get a firearm license." Mike's cousin is an anti-terrorism expert, and the yeshiva has also talked about bringing him in to talk with the students about what to do in case of an attack, and about lockdown scenarios. During a foray into the Old City, the Post discovered somewhat better security, but there were still what seemed to be lapses to the unprofessional eye. A yeshiva close to the Muslim Quarter was heavily protected, with an armed guard and video cameras, but a few schools farther into the Jewish Quarter had either an unarmed one or no guard at all. The one close to the Muslim Quarter posted a guard around the clock near the students' dorms on Thursday night, though another student said he thought the guard had been removed by Sunday. Several students at various yeshivot said they had received instructions from their rabbis to be more alert when moving about the city and not to leave the doors of the yeshiva open. Many yeshivot do post guards to protect their students. Security or the lack thereof aside, all the students the Post spoke with were undeterred by the attack and no one was talking about going home. "It's life. If you leave, they win," said one young British man here for a year. "I am concerned myself, but I'm not leaving," another student from an overseas program said. "There's no hiding. The wife and child of a guy in my community were killed in a car accident the same day as the attack. If it's not terrorism then something else can take you down," another yeshiva student said. Whether it is because of their faith in God, or a healthy dose of fatalism, Jerusalem yeshiva students did not seem frightened at all. The cacophony of voices arguing over the ancient and modern texts was still going strong as this reporter left the study hall.