Crisis and Redemption | Cigar Reviews by the Katman

You ever get to the point where enough is enough?

In the last two years, we have seen a huge uptick in shootings at schools, houses of worship, and random gatherings of people all over the world. All perpetrated by crazies.
White supremacy is up. Anti-Semitism is out of control.

It took the shooting at the Poway synagogue to trigger something inside of me to act.
At 69, I’m now an armed security guard at a synagogue in Milwaukee. I would like to refrain from naming it for safety purposes.

Thankfully, I’ve trained and studied for over 20 years. I’ve had a concealed weapon permit since 1998. I’ve had great mentors and a son in law who has taught me much as he is Milwaukee TEU and SWAT.

It also had an immense benefit for me…I have the opportunity to reconnect with my people. I haven’t been to temple since the year 2000.

The shul I am attending is in dire need of help. They have one armed guard who spends most of Saturday, the Jewish sabbath, standing outside the locked entrance to the temple. I am stationed inside all day as non-Jews who are armed cannot enter.

At this point, I have also attended weekday morning services and Friday night services. It’s just me on guard…Although, there are several congregants with CCW licenses. But unfortunately, no training.

On Sundays, religious and Hebrew school is on the agenda. There is a one-hour morning service just prior to the school starting. Dozens of beautiful, young children attend.

Unfortunately, the temple is a sitting duck. Its surroundings are a petri dish for invasion by a bad actor(s). I’ve submitted a crisis plan to the rabbi and he is pulling together the elders of the synagogue to discuss my plan on protecting and readying adults and children for an emergency. Once I get them all to agree, I plan on bringing in law enforcement for safety presentations.

After 40 years in commercial construction, and 10 years in the music industry, this is the most stressful job I’ve had. Being an altakaker doesn’t make it easier. Whoda’ thunk that after seven decades on the planet, I would have to take arms against a sea of troubles and, by opposing, end them. (I just plagiarized “Hamlet”).

I’ve had to arm myself to the teeth. I’m a walking, talking IED.

The upside is that everyone is wonderful. I’m having flashbacks to my youth when I attended shul regularly and so many new faces remind me of my past.

I spend most of the day outside on Sundays with my main goal of protecting the kids as they play outside; or are in school. I’m constantly patrolling and keeping my head on a swivel.

I love the kids. They must have great parents as all are kind and sweet and respectful.

As I’ve only been a new congregant for a few weeks, so many temple members don’t know me; especially those parents dropping off and picking up their children from school.

I was shocked at the looks from parents driving up as I always make an attempt to say hello and approach anyone I haven’t met. I see terror and fear in every single parent who see me as an unknown and are hyper aware of the danger to their community. I’ve never seen anything like this. And then when they realize I’m there to help, and a Jew, the fear leaves their eyes and their shoulders come to rest.

I’ve found myself overwhelmed by parents and congregants who are happy to know I’m there. They seem to be in a constant state of worry and fear. I get a constant stream of thank you’s. The rabbi went as far as sending my photo to parents via email to introduce me and to allay their fears that a stranger is among their children.

I wear a tactical security vest that hides my weaponry. Otherwise, I wear normal casual clothing. I invested in a semi-duty belt as all that stuff hanging from my Milt Sparks gun belt is pulling my pants down. Not a good look for impressing parents that their kids are safe.

Surprisingly, there are some congregants that feel going to armed security isn’t needed. This shocked me. I read where the Poway synagogue had zero crisis plan and no armed security but are now manning up big time. So, in my Katman style, I have no compunctions for voicing my opinion on what needs to be done to keep everyone safe.

I don’t want to see this happen here. I’m working tirelessly to inform and cudgel some of the members that if we don’t prepare, chaos will ensue.

My Hebrew is rusty as following certain traditions have now become foreign to me; but the members are all welcoming and helpful. There is no end to their kindness. Plus, they know I have several guns on me.

So far, I haven’t found a single congregant that enjoys cigars. This is an alternate universe. But that doesn’t stop me from smoking mine when I’m outside patrolling on Sundays.

I wish I didn’t feel the need for my new course in life. But there comes a point when a person believes action is necessary and that evil may must not have its way.

I warned the members I’m a crier. Especially, when we stand to say Kaddish, the prayer for mourning those that have passed…turns out that they are criers too.
So, for the first time in 20 years, I have rejoined the Tribe.

I know a lot of people hate the Jews. But hatred is not constrained to just us. The crazies just hate because they are mentally unbalanced…and hatred is their only outlet.

My first preference, of course, is not to be killed. I hope that nothing like we’ve seen ever touches the doorsteps of this synagogue. But if it does, my hope is that good will prevail over evil.

I’ve not been able to write many reviews lately. I’m dealing with a health issue in which I still don’t know the diagnosis. I think once I know, I will be able to get past that and begin writing with regularity again.

I’m not looking for a pat on the back for this post. To be honest, I’m scared shitless.
I’m hoping that it may instill some of you to feel the need to contribute to the community you live in. If this altakaker can do it, anyone can.

Shalom and Peace. God bless us all.


29 replies

  1. This is very brave and very awesome, what you are doing. A real mitzhav. And you feeling that you are “back in the tribe” is a lovely bonus. You’re a good guy, Uncle.

    • Thank you, Kellie…but I certainly don’t feel brave; nor do I feel I have any choice on this matter. I just hope my presence is a deterrence. All shooters have shown themselves to be cowards who will avoid authority at any cost.

  2. Thanks for your service in these troubling times, from one Wisconsin Lantzman (in Madison) to another!

  3. May the good Lord protect you and everyone there Katman.

  4. You are Blazing a Path of GREATNESS !!!

  5. Thank you for stepping up and helping out! The congregation is lucky to have you. Hopefully, your act will encourage others to join you. What are you carrying? An IWI Jericho? Good guys with guns like you protect people. Many fail to understand this.

    • While I prefer not to mention what I’m carrying, I’m making Rambo look like a pussy…lol.
      We’re all good guys, Red. Life has taught me that every person will find their “must do” situation at some point in their lives. I am just a product of the current political climate and I can’t sit by and watch. Last week, we had two school shootings. The first in Denver and then here in Kenosha. It’s not going to get better and I’m sad that, in my elder years, I find myself dumbfounded by this spate of hate that permeates society and is now a constant trend that seems to have no expiration date.
      Thank you, Red.

  6. You made me cry a little too. I’m a Civics teacher and wish it didn’t take acts like this to move people. A purpose is served though. BTW – You look better in that pic then the one I’ve scene up forever.

    • As a teacher, you are the backbone of our American society. Teachers are the real heroes. I hope your school has a crisis plan and is running drills and that you never have to implement them. God bless you.

  7. You deserve a pat on the back anyway. Keep up the good work and be well.

  8. Bravo brother…

  9. Such a Mensch!

  10. Stay safe Phil. You’re doing a huge service for your community.

  11. Hey Phil,
    Not the entertaining insightful music flashback included best cigar review I was expecting.
    My full support and continued admiration for all you do. – Ken

  12. As a retired military and LEO I commend you. It’s noble work. Head down & powder dry.


  13. This is how Freedom triumphs over tyranny good job!

  14. May the Archangel St. Michael protect you and those you are protecting.

  15. Salute’! For saying how important training is. It’s not enough just to buy a firearm.

    God bless you for steppin up. As an Italian growing up, I met more than a few fighting Jews. Your peoples enemies better pack a lunch.