Rise in Antisemitism Spurs Attorney to Purchase Gun Range

AP Photo/Carlos Osorio

There's been a sharp increase in the number of antisemitic attacks across the country since Hamas launched its attack on Israel last October, including in Ohio, where the Anti-Defamation League says the number of antisemitic incidents has grown by nearly 300%. That's one big reason why attorney Ian Friedman decided, along with his business partner John McCreery, to purchase and expand a gun store and range in the Cleveland suburb of Newbury. 


After several months of renovation, First Strike Range & Gun Shop recently held its grand opening and welcomed hundreds of guests and visitors as Friedman and his co-owner officially unveiled the expanded store and indoor range. 

"It’s a nice introduction to what is here and what the services are,” Friedman, a congregant of Mishkan Or in Beachwood, said. “…We went big with the change to the range and therefore we want to share big with those who have been with us for years and for those who hopefully will be joining us for the first time … It really was a warehouse before, so what we’ve done is made it a place that is much more comfortable and appealing.” 

Rabbi Shneur Itzinger of Chabad Jewish Center of Chagrin Falls delivered the opening blessing. Guest speakers included a member of Ohio Ordnance Works, Inc., a local firearms manufacturer, and a retired Israel Defense Forces lieutenant colonel. 

On range demonstrations throughout the day included learning about and firing modern and World War II-era automatic weapons with Ohio Ordnance Works, Inc., shooting ballistic clothing and showcasing what happens when a bullet hits its point of contact with gelatine blocks.

“I think everybody should be able to feel safe using firearms, I think they should be well trained using them,” Steven Goldberg, who attends services at Solon Chabad, told the CJN. “…Safety is our target and that’s what we’re looking for.”

The newly-renovated space, including a social lounge, classrooms and increased area for added inventory for first-time and experienced shooters, was “really nice,” Steve Rosner, a longtime customer, told the CJN

“They did a great job,” he said. “Prior. they had maybe two or three display cases, there wasn’t much here.”


Friedman says his goal for the new range is to offer "a place where people from all different communities can come and relax, train and socialize with other like-minded individuals.” 

While the October 7th attack on Israel and the rise in antisemitism in the months since may have spurred Friedman to purchase and expand First Strike, he's tapping into a newfound appreciation for the Second Amendment among some members of the Jewish faith. 

In California, the Jewish self-defense group Magen Am has seen a spike in interest as well; including from filmmakers Salvador and Nina Litvak, who attended several Magen Am training sessions ahead of their latest project. "Guns and Moses" (a great title, by the way) follows a Chabad rabbi in California's high desert who decides to investigate the murder of a congregant. 

While everyone assumes that what happened was a hate crime, and a white supremacist who hung around the Chabad is thrown into jail, Rabbi Mo refuses to accept that this young man is guilty. He sets out on a journey to get to the bottom of the crime and find the real killer – before they strike again.

The only problem? Rabbi Mo has absolutely no detective experience. He doesn’t know self-defense or own a gun, either. 

At the urging of Hindy and the security guard at the Chabad, Brenda (Gabrielle Ruiz), Rabbi Mo purchases firearms and begins his training at the local range. 

“This is based on the firearms training I received as a member of Magen Am,” Salvador said. “Rabbi Yossi Eilfort of Magen Am trained me. The cliché in movies is that when a civilian learns to wield a gun, there’s a 30-second montage of him shooting cans off a fence, and suddenly he’s an expert gunman. We made sure that the firearm use was accurate. The way Rabbi Mo holds his gun and what he was learning had to be authentic. Mark Feuerstein went with Rabbi Eilfort to their training.”


I love the fact that the rabbi doesn't automatically become John Wick after a short bit of training, but I'm even more appreciative of the fact that the film shows gun ownership as a normal response for someone concerned with their personal safety. 

The Livtaks are currently screening "Guns and Moses" at Jewish film festivals, but hope to see the film in theaters later this year. I wonder if First Strike has room in their expanded space to host a screening of its own? Even if that doesn't come to pass, it sounds like First Strike is going to be a welcoming place for folks in the Cleveland area who are new to exercising their Second Amendment rights, and I'm glad to see that Friedman and McCreery are making an investment in firearms education and training.  

Join the conversation as a VIP Member