UPPER NYACK, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Following the Chanukah stabbing and other anti-Semitic attacks, some members of the Jewish community want to be prepared to possibly fight back.

That means learning proper self-defense, which is now being offered at a series of seminars in Rockland County.

A knife-wielding attacker bursts into a sanctuary. What would you do?

It’s the terrifying question self-defense expert Rob Fletcher is asking congregants of the Congregation Sons of Israel synagogue in Upper Nyack, and it’s a scenario that’s no longer far-fetched.

“I teach in synagogues, so I’m always in a situation where there’s police around because we’re not so safe anymore. So it’s an uneasy feeling,” attendee Deb Klock told CBS2’s Aundrea Cline-Thomas.

“What do you carry with you that you could block, throw or strike with that would do damage?” Fletcher asked the congregants.

Congregants at a Rockland County synagogue take a self-defense class. (Credit: CBS2)

Run, hide or fight – that’s the split-second decision Fletcher says has to be made when danger is imminent.

Developing those survival instincts requires both a physical and mental response.

“What would it take to get you to go to a place that you have never been to before? An example is, what would a parent do for their children?” Fletcher said.

The Congregation Sons of Israel synagogue, like so many others, has increased security over the years. Some congregants even wear panic buttons.

But they say the attack at a Monsey synagogue during Chanukah took the need for self-defense to a new level.

During the Monsey attack, a brave congregant — 32-year-old Josef Gluck — threw a table at the suspect, possibly preventing more people from being injured.

“I think this was an excellent way of looking at — if you act, you might save other people and yourself,” said Jacob Wasserman of Congregation Sons of Israel.

Self-defense training is meant to empower people to act in the face of unimaginable fear, even when it’s unfolding in one of the most sacred spaces.

“God is there to help but you have to help yourself,” Wasserman said.

When sanctuaries become targets, this community is preparing to fight back.

For more information about the class and how to be prepared, visit sdi7hiit.com.


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