Fitness enthusiasts volunteer to escort LA Jews to Shabbat services


(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.

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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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