Magen Am: Each of Us Is the Jewish People’s Shield

The Star of David, known in Hebrew as Magen David, meaning the protector of David, is the shape of a hexagram compound of two equilateral triangles. That is generally recognized as the symbol of modern Jewish identity and Judaism.

There is a Jewish traditional tale that when King David went into battle he held a shield on which were drawn two triangles, one upright and one inverted on top of each other and therefore the familiar diagram is called the Star of David.

Magen David - inscribed in Hebrew, 'And each of us is a Star of David' - Screen shot
Magen David – inscribed in Hebrew, ‘And each of us is a Star of David’ – Screen shot

Another tradition indicates that the emblem appeared on the shields of King David’s army.

Jewish tradition sees King David as a warrior. In Judaism, King David’s commanding strength is symbolic to the strength of the nation.

And what does it symbolize? There are many secrets hidden in the Star of David. As such, fascinating to know is that all the Hebrew Letters appear in the Magen David shape and a straight triangle and an inverted triangle symbolize male and female, two opposites that form one whole.

A shield, ‘magen’ in the Hebrew language – what does the Star of David symbolize?

Shield of King David used in Battle
Shield of King David used in Battle

Magen equals protector, a shield. It could be a metallic object held in front of the body to protect it from being hit by a weapon; it could be the defense player playing along one of the wings in a football game; it could be an object or protection tool against injury.

Throughout history, the Jew has been the scapegoat of notorious violence

Jews are the most attacked people in the world. Hostility toward the Jews is called Antisemitism. Hatred toward the state of Israel, what translates into Antisemitism, has gone mainstream.

In Europe, in the past one or two decades, Antisemitism has gone rampant and ongoing attacks on Jews have been driving Jews to leave the continent in large numbers, many come to America in pursuit of a safer life.

Though the United States is a religion- and ethnic-tolerant society, since Jews arrived on American shores, Antisemitism, the hatred of Jews, has been expressed in many forms. Alarmingly, today Antisemitism is on the rise in America. One of the places for one to express such antagonistic behavior is where Jews congregate, mainly in synagogues and Jewish community centers.

Magen Am security - photo courtesy Magen Am
Magen Am security – photo courtesy Magen Am

And here is where Magen-Am comes in

What is Magen Am?

Magen Am splits its security services into two groups:

1/ Security volunteers within the community;

2/ Lone soldiers, IDF veterans’ professional security officers;

Magen Am USA Inc., the Hebrew words for “Shield of the Nation,” was initially a nonprofit organization its mission was of self-defense; it has since become a community security force and according to Rabbi Yossi Eilfort, the co-founder of Magen Am, with a martial arts background, its main goal is to protect life and that includes everybody.

Established some three years ago, the organization is licensed through the California Bureau of Security and Investigative Services (BSIS) as a Private Patrol Operator (PPO #120715) its present mission statement is “To Train and Empower the community to secure itself from within.” Magen Am does not believe in safety third, meaning, that someone else is responsible for one’s safety and security. Therefore, the organization is dedicated to the creation of essential armed security teams, at this time, within the Jewish community, comprised of licensed and trained community members whose purpose is to protect the lives of other Jews.

WHO is Magen Am?

The thorough Magen Am 4-month-long training program, takes place on Sunday and during weekdays in the evening. It covers security theory including combat stress psychology and physiology, body language, verbal judo, de-escalation technics, learning the types of violence, security screening ability and targeted questioning leading to vulnerability assessments and target hardening.

The training also covers ‘Legal Use of Force,’ part of which is force continuum and less-lethal combative use of firearms. Magen Am volunteer trained security teams’ members’ firearms training course is conducted at the California Tactical Academy, vetted by members of Law Enforcement and retired Military, of both, US and Israeli intelligence and Special Forces.

Additionally, the volunteers acquire an Exposed Firearm Permit after going through the State of California mandated certification training in order to acquire a Security Guard firearm license.

Magen Am in training - photo courtesy Magen Am
Magen Am in training – photo courtesy Magen Am

One day, several members of the synagogue where I attend services showed up in Magen Am uniform. What I learned was that they have taken and graduated the Magen Am training course and are this synagogue’s protecting shield from within the community. Having trained members looking out for the community’s security is a comforting factor and members feel safer while they are present in their synagogue.

Curiosity about Magen Am operations caused me to make an appointment for an interview with Leibel Magel, a transfer to Los Angeles from Cincinnati, Ohio, who served as a lone soldier in the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) combat unit and is the Executive Director, Magen Lone Soldier Program.

Magen Am – Lone Soldier Veterans Program

Magen-Am members’ main objective is not to be reactive, rather be offensive. “When the BDS (Boycott, Divest, Sanction Israel) comes to campus why be reactive, not offensive?” is Leibel’s outlook. He is proud to tell me that Magn Am’s training, two groups during one year, at the cost of $5,000 a person, encompasses mental state, martial arts and firearm usage, is as good as, or even better than the police similar training. A great part of the organization’s training is awareness and how to prevent stressful environment and avoid fear mongering.

In the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), a ‘lone soldier‘ is defined as a serviceman or woman without immediate family living in Israel. The lone soldiers serve in regular IDF units and receive various forms of support from the IDF, Israel’s government ministries and several organizations. Their exact number fluctuates over time, but is consistently in the thousands; in April 2012, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported that there were an “estimated 5,000” lone soldiers serving in the IDF.

Magen Am IDF lone soldier veterans after a day of training with Mike Levy (AKA knockoutlights) (top row 2nd-left) one of the most respected instructors in the industry - photo courtesy Magen Am
Magen Am IDF lone soldier veterans after a day of training with Mike Levy (AKA knockoutlights) (top row 2nd-left) one of the most respected instructors in the industry – photo courtesy Magen Am

In general, veterans face difficulties in adjustment and thus require a transitional period when they return to civilian life and need to integrate into society. This process applies to IDF veterans as well. Till a lone soldier figures out what is his next step in life, utilizing their military experience in protecting Israel, meaning, protecting life in the Jewish state, is an advantage they have acquired.

Magen Am veteran training is a step-by-step 4-weeks full time of approximately 160 hours course, carried out by experts in intelligence, personal development, and fitness and psychology coaches. Thereafter the security personnel are required to uphold their sharp skills.

Becoming a Magen-Am salaried professional security officer, through an application process, funded by the community and several institutions, gives a lone soldier religion sensitivity and is helping him in becoming a member of the community while giving the Jewish community a greater sense of security.

It is worth mentioning here that in the military the service idea is of selflessness; there is no ‘ME’ while serving, it is ‘US’ and that is the base of Magen Am when serving and protecting the community.

Magen Am officers in training-photo courtesy Magen Am
Magen Am officers in training – photo courtesy Magen Am

Magen Am can be seen as the missing aspect and what the European Jews needed before the Holocaust began. While the State of Israel is recognized as the backbone of protecting the Jewish Nation as a whole, Magen Am, a most welcome approach to protecting the vulnerable Jewish communities, can be seen as the extension of the Jewish state, protecting Jewish life outside Israel’s borders.

Nurit Greenger
During the 2006 second Lebanon War, Nurit Greenger, referenced then as the "Accidental Reporter" felt compelled to become an activist. Being an 'out-of-the-box thinker, Nurit is a passionately committed advocate for Jews, Israel, the United States, and the Free World in general. From Southern California, Nurit serves as a "one-woman Hasbarah army" for Israel who believes that if you stand for nothing, you will fall for anything.

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