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Jew-jitsu

Martial artists volunteer to escort LA Jews to Shabbat services

Jiujitsu practitioner says he and some of his buddies at the gym wanted to accompany Jewish residents of the area following antisemitic attacks during Gaza war

Illustrative: Pro-Israel supporters chant slogans during a rally in support of Israel outside the Federal Building in Los Angeles, May 12, 2021. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, file)
Illustrative: Pro-Israel supporters chant slogans during a rally in support of Israel outside the Federal Building in Los Angeles, May 12, 2021. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, file)

JTA — Remi Franklin thought about his two communities and realized there could be a match: His pals at the gym might want to volunteer to walk with Los Angeles-area Jews who were fearful of attending services on Shabbat following attacks on Jews in the city during the latest Israel-Hamas war.

The Los Angeles Times interviewed Franklin on Saturday while he was greeting congregants at an Orthodox synagogue and asking them if they wanted a walk home. Franklin, a jiujitsu practitioner who according to the Forward is coordinating his volunteer effort with Magen Am, a security service for the Jewish community, told the Times a lot of friends signed up.

He said his effort has recruited Jews and non-Jews, including practitioners of jiujitsu, boxing and mixed martial arts.

“We have ladies who are former dancers and gymnasts,” he told the Times.

Last week, pro-Palestinian attackers threw punches and bottles at diners at a sushi restaurant in Los Angeles.

Among the volunteers Franklin recruited was Jonathan Lipnicki, who starred as a child in “Jerry Maguire” and is now a Brazilian jiujitsu black belt. He said he attends Shabbat dinners hosted by Franklin.

“It’s a scary time for the Jewish community,” Lipnicki, who is Jewish, told the Times.

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