Jews Learn to Rumble in the Bronx

Reports of antisemitic hate crimes in New York increased by over 25% in 2022 with 263 in all. While the state is taking action to educate and stem the tide of hate in New York, many Jewish residents are now training in self-defense so they are less likely to ever face such a hate crime and if they are, they can stand up for themselves.

Emanuel Landsman is a Lubavitch living in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. He is a father of five and in the last three years became proficient in self-defense. Landsman told the New York Jewish Week: “I’m a visibly Jewish man. I came to train because of all the antisemitic attacks and what was going on around us. I would get hollered at by cars driving by. My kid came home and said others were walking down the street and yelling at him.” 

Landsman trained in martial arts at Legion. Founded in 2014, Legion was the first nonprofit in America dedicated to training Jews to defend themselves. The training consists of self-defense, counter-terrorism techniques, and first aid. Legion taught Landsman and others the martial art called Krav Maga, which means “contact combat” in Hebrew. It was developed in Israel and is now a staple in Hollywood films for its realistic and practical style. Corey Feldman, Legion’s president and former Israeli Defense Forces soldier, told New York Jewish Week, “It’s not a requirement to join our class, but the majority of our members are Jewish. Our logo is a Jewish star. It’s pretty obvious who we are and what we stand for.” Legion has been running out of space to accommodate those wanting to do their program, which is even attended by city council members and is expanding into Brooklyn with weekly classes in the Beth-El Jewish Center.

The training, while giving people the skills to defend themselves, also gives them the confidence and certainty they need to prevent a situation from escalating when it is starting. As Landsman put it, “You need to be able to stand your ground and unfreeze yourself when somebody is threatening you with violence. You need to know when to run or when there is no retreat and you have to defend yourself.”