Los Angeles — (JTA) — It’s a sunny morning in Southern California and Lea Rosenfeld, a soft-spoken, bespectacled woman who looks like a Jewish grandmother, squares her feet, faces her target and squeezes off five shots with a handgun.
All of them miss.
“I never even held a gun in my hands before,” she later confesses. “I’m still shaking.”
Still, Rosenfeld keeps shooting in the hot sun. She says she’s doing it because of her parents and what they endured: Both were Holocaust survivors.
“My question has always been why they didn’t fight back, and my mother could never give me a good answer,” Rosenfeld told JTA. “They weren’t prepared for it, they didn’t believe it was going to happen and they didn’t have anything to fight back with.”
That’s what motivated Doris Wise Montrose, president of the Children of Jewish Holocaust Survivors, to organize the recent day of firearms instruction at the Angeles Shooting Range in northeast Los Angeles.
Montrose’s organization is more of a one-woman operation than a group. By her own account, it consists of Montrose and “a humongous email list.” The organization is dedicated, according to its website, to “The New Holocaust Resistance.”
Much of that has consisted of Montrose organizing lectures with a decidedly right-wing bent. She has hosted such figures as Eugene Volokh, the libertarian-leaning UCLA law professor, and Pamela Geller, the anti-Islam activist behind the current bus ad campaign in Washington that features a photograph of Hitler and the grand mufti of Jerusalem with the line “Islamic Jew-hatred: It’s in the Quran.”
“I think what Doris is trying to do is to keep the memory of the Holocaust alive so we will not forget its important lessons,” said Alex Kozinski, the chief judge of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and a friend of Montrose who has spoken to her group.
Recently, however, Montrose decided that lectures and emails were not enough.
So it was that on a Sunday in mid-May, she and seven others – three of them children of Holocaust survivors – gathered to receive “point and shoot” instruction from Itamar Gelbman, 32, a former lieutenant in the Israel Defense Forces.
“We talk about defending ourselves, but we have to do something aside from sharing email articles,” Montrose said.