Jewish club blends interest in guns, cigars and Torah.
Special to the Jewish News
helps put both topics in perspective. He is a club
member who participates in shooting at ranges,
but also in bringing a little Torah learning to club
ho said guns and Jews don't mix? Just
ask members of the Detroit Jewish
Tolwin has delivered divrei Torah to the group on
Cigar and Shooting Club.
such subjects as the Jewish view on self-defense in
Founder Ron Miller of West Bloomfield created
history (the Maccabees, the Six-Day War) and the
the club in April 2007 to "blend social and political
value of life in Halachah (Jewish law).
things and also to be shooting-oriented although
"It took the Nazis longer to take the Warsaw
the gun aspect was secondary for me
Ghetto than it did to conquer the nation of France
In July 2007, close to 30 members gathered at the
Tolwin said. "We have a history of being ferocious
Southfield Hilton for the first meeting. Today the
fighters. Every Jew should know that self-defense
club has more than 40 members and, Miller says,
— the ability to save one's life or another's — is a
membership is "growing slowly but surely"
Jewish requirement. If you see an innocent person's
Miller is club president; Jerry Krause of West
life being threatened, you have a responsibility to
Bloomfield is vice president. Both Krause and
save that person's life.
Stuart Weiss of West Bloomfield, the club's sec-
"Judaism is not a sheep-to-the-slaughter religion.
retary, shoot several times a month and also
We don't believe in turning the other cheek. We
compete. Sam Rosenberg of Bloomfield Township,
believe in fighting for what is right. It says in the
club treasurer, was in the American military, and
Bible many times, 'We must eradicate evil from our
another board member, John Poris of Farmington,
was in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).
Two other local rabbis weigh in about Jews and
Miller makes it clear that the National Rifle
Association-affiliated club isn't strictly for people
"Judaism requires a person to defend him or her-
with conservative political views — nor just for
self7 said Rabbi Arnie Sleutelberg of Congregation
Shir Tikvah in Troy.
"We have a couple people who are friends of
"In Israel, many civilians are armed. This is not a
members and others who want to join who aren't
foreign concept to us.
Jewish although we're basically a Jewish club.
"I support the right to bear arms. The question is
Orthodox, Conservative, secular — all parts of
what kind of arms and in what context? I'm not in
the Jewish community are represented;' said
favor of assault rifles. I support those who choose
Miller, a member of the Sara and Morris Tugman
to defend themselves or their homes with a fire-
Bais Chabad Torah Center in West Bloomfield.
arm. I have no problem with someone carrying a
To ensure adequate screening, at a recent meet-
gun if they have a license. We live in America. The
ing a bylaw was passed stating that every new
law of the land is the law."
member must be sponsored by two board mem-
Rabbi Joseph Klein of Temple Emanu-El in Oak
Wayne State University student Aaron Poris shoots at clay pigeons
at Island Park range in Brighton.
Park takes a different view. "My Judaism has noth-
At a shooting outing earlier this year at the
ing to do with my feelings about guns. I under-
Island Lake range in Brighton, members shot clay pigeons his parents were "neutral about guns" although he was
stand Jewish gun owners seeing a connection — our
outdoors. Several members brought older teenagers,
always a staunch supporter of the Second Amendment.
coming from oppressive societies where we were targeted
which is not unusual. Wives also attend regularly.
A real estate broker and divorced father of four, Miller
and defenseless and saying,`That's not going to happen
When Krause, who attends Temple Israel in West
sometimes brings his sons along to shoot.
again — not to me or my family.'
Bloomfield, met his wife, Leigh, in Ann Arbor 13 years
Two of Miller's sons were at the Island Lake outing.
"Personally, I am opposed to handguns of all kinds and
ago, he says she was "an anti-gun raving liberal" until he
Jacob attends high school in Farmington Hills. Daniel,
uncomfortable with weapons in homes. I tried to defeat
asked her, "How come liberals are all championing free-
a Wayne State University business student in Detroit, is
the recent legislation to have the right to carry, which
dom with the First Amendment, but they have no respect
studying Torah in Israel at Ohr Somayach.
for the Second?"
"The best part is knowing how to defend yourself;'
"I don't know if the commandment to protect oneself
Soon after, Krause and a friend went pheasant hunting
Daniel said. "If there's ever another Holocaust, I know
requires a loaded weapon:"
in Kentucky, and Leigh joined them as the photographer.
how to protect myself and my family" He turns 20 this
Aaron Zelman founded Jews for the Preservation of
After seeing how much fun he was having, she said, "I
month and intends to get a concealed weapons permit
Firearms (JPFO) in 1989. He is executive director of the
traded my camera in for a firearm and have been hooked
"the minute" he turns 21.
organization, based in Hartford, Wis.
on shooting ever since."
"Most Jews are naive about self-defense Zelman said.
"I really like the camaraderie of shooting: a group
JPFO has about 4,500 members. The group's perspec-
walking in a field watching a dog point a bird, then watch- Self-defense and the Holocaust are two topics that come
tive is that "gun-control schemes lead to registration and
ing the bird fly up and we shoot up and everyone congrat- up often with members of this club.
confiscation of guns and that the eight major genocides
ulates each other. We only shoot what we eat or donate'
Miller's good friend Rabbi Alon Tolwin of Aish
of the last 100 years were all preceded by gun-control
Ron Miller grew up in secular home in Oak Park, where HaTorah's Executive Learning Program in Southfield,
schemes that disarmed the intended victims."
December 25 • 2008