Sha’arim+Gateways Offers Free Krav Maga Course

As a response to the antisemitism and fear that many in the Jewish community are facing, Sha’arim + Gateways is offering a program to help people feel a little safer. 

Associate Director Layah Shagalow is organizing a two-day Krav Maga seminar. This event, tailored for the Jewish community and borne out of concern for safety concerns following Oct 7, aims to provide self-defense skills to the Jewish community. 

“There’s a lot of fear-mongering, there’s a lot of intimidation, there’s a lot of violent, vocal stuff going on that is very antisemitic, very anti-Israel” said Shagalow. Register for the event here.

Each day will be single-gender programming; the men’s program is scheduled for March 19, the women’s on March 20. The program will offer specialized sessions for people ages 16 and up, focusing on the unique challenges faced by each group in potential threat scenarios.

Krav Maga, a martial art initially developed for the Israel Defense Forces, focuses on real-life combat situations. Reflecting on her personal experience with the martial art, Shagalow said, “Krav Maga is about empowering people. To know their strength, know how to utilize their strength so that they can be confident in the world”.

Leading the seminar are Raz Chen, with a background as a senior military Krav Maga instructor, and Carlos Gutierrez, a Krav Maga instructor with over 10 years of experience. 

The seminar is being offered free of charge to members of the Jewish community, reflecting a desire to make self-defense training accessible to all. Individuals of all backgrounds and abilities are invited to participate. The event is sponsored by the Minneapolis Jewish Federation with several other participating organizations, including Chabad of St. Louis Park, Chabad YJP, YALA, Darchei Noam, Sha’arim + Gateways.

Shagalow shared a quote from Raz Chen, capturing the essence of Krav Maga’s impact: “Krav Maga training transforms fear into something more productive: awareness and skill. It is for the ones who wish to walk in peace and protect themselves and their loved ones, but more than that, it is a way to revive our tradition of being warriors who protect our most precious values: life and peace.”

Shagalow noted the overwhelming support and gratitude from the community. 

“The community is really grateful to see something so practical, so directly impactful come across the table,” she said.

Shagalow’s vision for the event extends beyond mere physical training; it’s about cultivating a mindset of peace, confidence, and empowerment. “When we’re not fearful of being able to protect ourselves, we can walk in confidence,” she said. 

The upcoming Krav Maga seminar represents more than just an opportunity for self-defense training.

“It’s important for people to know that this isn’t just serious,” she said. “This is a fun way to feel a little bit better about everything right now. To feel better in your body, to feel better, to feel connected to the community, and to do something that can feel empowering”.