The question of whether or not Ultra-Orthodox people should carry guns has come up once more in the wake of the horrific terror attacks near a synagogue in Neve Yaakov and two weeks later in the center of the Ultra-Orthodox community Ramot, in which ten people were killed in all.
All United Hatzalah volunteers with the capacity to carry a weapon are required to attend synagogue on Shabbat while armed, according to Rabbi Sinai Halberstam, who serves as the Rabbinical Council for the Bnei Brak chapter of United Hatzalah.
Twenty-five volunteer EMTs who hold the necessary permits are among those who will offer first aid should someone attempt to attack one of the many settlements in the Ultra-Orthodox metropolis.
To cover and safeguard more synagogues and neighborhoods in the city, United Hatzalah’s local leadership is attempting to obtain licenses for an additional 40 volunteers to possess firearms.
Now that a special ruling has been made, the volunteers who carry these guns during the week are also permitted to do so on Shabbat.
After the deadly terror assault in Bnei Brak a year ago that left five people dead, volunteers of the group started receiving special permission to carry guns. One of the volunteers reacted so rapidly that he arrived while the terrorist was still firing and was attacked himself.
Fifteen volunteers were given a special permit at the time.
Rabbi Halberstam advised all those who are able and willing to carry weapons to protect the lives of their fellow community members following the two recent attacks that targeted individuals in Ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods.
He spoke to the head of the Bnei Brak Chapter, Effi Feldman. It is a positive commandment (Mitzvah) and obligation for anyone authorized to do so by the volunteers of the Bnei Brak branch to carry their weapons with them even on Shabbat and holidays and especially when going to the synagogue – which can be a place that is targeted due to the large number of people congregating there, and therefore one of heightened danger.
This is because of the numerous warnings and the delicate situation we currently find ourselves in.
Feldman responded, “We are now working to extend the number of volunteers permitted to carry guns owing to their volunteering as first responders, due to the recent escalation and security threat, and to enhance the feelings of safety for civilians.
Also, by Rabbi Halberstaum’s instructions, I’ve told the 25 volunteers who currently possess a firearm license to keep their weapons and medical supplies with them at all times, including inside synagogues, to be ready should something G-d forbids occur.
Although I hope they never have to, it is a duty to be prepared and save lives.
According to Israel Alter, deputy director of the chapter, Rabbi Sinai Halberstam and Rabbi Avraham Yeshayahu Karlitz were consulted about the issues presented by the volunteers.
After the meeting, Rabbi Sinai Halberstam delivered a judgment to the United Hatzalah volunteers in the city that it is a commandment and an absolute requirement for them to have guns with them at all times, including on Shabbat and holy days.