The Answer to ‘Knockout the Jew’: Karate Rabbi

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rabbi-sensei-gary-moskowitzRabbi Sensei Gary Moskowitz, 56, grew up in Soundview section of the Bronx and took up Karate to protect himself. As one of the few Jewish kids in the neighborhood, Gary was beaten up a lot.

Now he’s reaching out to city Jews who are being targeted by the “Knockout the Jew” criminals.

“I wore a yarmulke, and I was a target,” he told the NY Post. “I was once dragged up six stories to a rooftop by a gang . . . They held me over the ledge.”

At age 14, he went to a Jewish Defense League-sponsored summer camp and took up karate.

“I came back, and I was able to do 400 push-ups,” he told the Post.

Later, he says, he honed his skills working at the NYPD where he became known as “Rambowitz” and was one of the only two Orthodox Jewish cops at the time. He says his years as a cop helped him gain experience in street fighting, psychology, stress management, and self-discipline.

During the next 30 years he taught a broad variety of subjects to the whole spectrum of students – Martial Arts to the police, self-defense for women and Torah. He received his rabbinic ordination from Kollel Ayshel Avraham, and is completing his master’s degree in Education Administration at Mercy College, after having completed his law studies at Touro Law School.

“If Jewish kids started fighting back, they wouldn’t get picked on so much,” says Gary, who is a Karate black belt. “I’m just trying to encourage the Jewish community to do that.”

His program also includes Martial Arts Therapy for children fighting cancer and other illnesses, offering emotional and spiritual support to children and helps them to take an active role to become a partner in their own healing process.


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  1. This isn’t going to work for most people, since most people simply aren’t going to reach the skill level required to block an unforeseen attack. The whole rationale behind “knockout” attacks is that they aren’t expected. Besides, how many older people are going to have the physical energy, and how many young yeshiva guys, the time to train? Karate is difficult, demanding, and definitely not in the “instant skill” category? How do I know? I used to train karate myself. It requires dedication, time and a good teacher. Yes, it’s good to know how to defend yourself, and a shorter course in practical self defense is good, but karate as an answer to knockout attacks? Dream on.

  2. It is a very good way to enhance self confidence etc, and it might be very helpful in time of need. However – never but never forget that H’ he is the one in charge. It is a very good idea to say Tefilas Haderech every day -to include it in Shoimea Tefila for example – just to bear in mind that H’ is in control every moment and every second of the day. Some of these attacks are coming so fast and from nowhere that is almost impossible to react on time. H’ Ishmereinu


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