Jewish Preppers?

Some people finding our website may be wondering what is a Prepper and why does it have a religious affiliation? Well the short answer is...A Prepper is the modern day survivalist. It's not (necessarily) a right-wing militiaman preparing for Armageddon in the boondocks of Montana. But better represented by a normal, educated, middle class individual perhaps living in the most urban of cities, preparing themselves physically and mentally for any upcoming disaster, natural or man-made. This could include anything from earthquakes to volcanic eruptions, social unrest to an act of terrorism. Preparations include: food supply, medical supply, weapons supply etc. and the knowledge and skills to use them. Of course, a Jewish Prepper is just a designation for a small niche of the Prepper Community that is of the Jewish Faith. We are non-profit and nonpartisan. Enjoy!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

How do you start prepping? By David

For some time, I’ve been lurking in and flitting in and out of some of the other ‘prepper’ sites. Many have a strong Christian flavor to them and I began to wonder about the Jewish perspective as well as where I stand.

I’m a huge fan of science fiction and remember reading post-civilization novels as a kid and as preppers began to make it into the mainstream (see Newsweek’s article I began to think I’m way behind the curve. Our society, especially Jewish communities which tend to be in metropolitan areas rather than rural areas, are incredibly dependent on a hugely complex infrastructure. I remember the first time I worked in a small town in eastern Washington State. I visited ranchers and joked with them as a NYC Jew “so this is where you grow steaks” and even drove a combine for a few rows during a wheat harvest. I met a real cowboy, he ‘commuted ‘ to work on is horse, had the archetypical .45 caliber cowboy pistol around his waist and a rifle tucked away in a scabbard on the saddle. He could have been off a movie set of an old western except he didn’t roll his own cigarettes. In urban and suburban areas, the stores have perhaps a 3 – 4 day stock of food, which depends on trucks for constant re-stocking.

Start Imagining small- time scenarios, for example, electricity being out for 10 days due to a weather storm taking out a few major substations. No electric light, no electric stoves, no gasoline (depends on electric pumps to fill your tank), no ATMs, no credit card or debit card purchases, no internet, no lots of stuff we depend on for our day to day survival. Maybe you can drive to Aunt Sadie, but what if she is also affected. What would I do? What could I do? The food in the fridge and freezer would be gone in a few days, the store shelves would be bare, my cell phone uncharged and only useful as a paperweight, my car nearly out of gas…. Now imagine a larger scenario, and there are plenty to choose from.

I felt overwhelmed. How could I help my parents who are elderly and one confined to a wheelchair? How could I help my brother and sister, my nieces and nephews, how could I help the larger Jewish Community and others? I couldn’t. I would be hard-pressed to manage my (single) self.

I began to read the web’s offerings and despite a lots of view points, and a logic that tells me a 10 – 14 day scenario is probably more likely to occur than not occurring in the next 10 years, I could not find the motivation to take any concrete steps. I could not overcome the expected ridicule of family and friends for ordering a bunch of Kosher MRE’s (google Meals Ready to Eat).

Perhaps I needed a Jewish perspective, a Jewish obligation to start. Couldn’t Joseph be viewed as the first prepper seeing 7 years of famine looming? Although not a student of the Talmud, two things stuck in my head: if you are stranded in the dessert and have only enough water for you to survive the trek to safety, are you obligated to share your water (dooming yourself to death)? The answer is no. The second was if you learned that someone was planning to kill you tomorrow, that you should wake up early and kill them first. I emailed the Chabad “ask the Rabbi” what the Jewish perspective on prepping is and await their answer. And yes, I would rather be the one handing out MRE’s to family and as a charity, then be on the receiving end. Do I think this is likely? No, but I have all types of insurance of mere property. MRE’s are insurance for lives. I hope I don’t need either, but I am prepared for both.

So how do you start? First, read a lot of stuff. We will be compiling a list of reading, both fiction and non-fiction but don’t limit yourself to our choices. Find the framework that motivates you. If you can only envision a short-term disruption in services, start by making sure you have a supply of prescribed medicines stashed away, and enough food that has a long shelf-life. Maybe some extra blankets if the heat goes out for 3 weeks in the winter. What if you envision what is referred to as TEOTWAWKI [The End of The World As We Know]? Boy, planning for a breakdown of the social contract is daunting.

So my answer to the question is simply “prepping for what?” Prepping for a 2 week emergency seems more than prudent. Start by figuring out what you need for two weeks survival without supplies from the outside. For example:
Water containers. Enough for 2 liters per day per person (and some for pets)
A supply of prescribed medications.
Food that can be stored (MRE’s, pasta, freeze dried & etc) long term, figure eating twice daily.
Fuel to cook food if needed (an extra propane tank or bag of charcoal for the grill).
Batteries and flashlights.

That’s probably about as bare bones as you can get and seems to me to be a reasonable start. How far do you want to take your preparations is up to you.

What we aim to do here is to serve as a source of information and a sounding board for those interested in more than the bare minimums. Me, I like target shooting and this Jew will not serve as a scapegoat for the world’s evils if the SHTF (Shit Hits The Fan aka societal collapse). Do you find that idea unsettling? So do I but playing blame the Jew seems to be popular throughout the world in good times, let alone bad times! I have subtly altered my goals in target shooting to enable myself to use my skills in a defensive manner. What skills do you have that can be altered to be more useful in an emergency?

Here are some books that we like.

One Second After, by Willian Forstchen. A fun little novel exploring the what if of losing the entire electrical grid. Makes you think. A lot.
World Made By Hand: A Novel., by James Kunstler. What the world be like years (decades?) after a collapse. Beautiful prose.
Patriots: A Novel of Survival in the Coming Collapse, by James Wesley Rawles. More of a how to manual disguised as a novel. Mr Rawles also runs the web site previously sited.
Unintended Consequences, by John Ross. Very hard to find but rumored to soon be available in paperback. Very seditious in many ways and made me proud that the First Amendment protected this book. I can’t imagine it being printed in most countries!

Boston’s Gun Bible, by Boston T Party. The newly revised edition. The first parts of the book is basic gun education and strong points/weak points of numerous types of rifles, shotguns and pistols. Read this before buying any weapon! The second part of the book is political in nature and his pro-Bill of Rights stand is somewhat extreme. But imagine if you had to register your computer’s color printer!

Numerous books on ‘Outdoor Survival’

The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Knots and Ropework, by Geoffry Budworth. A great book of knotting, with better instructions than most. OK, so I like cool knots.


Alex Shrugged said...

I finished reading "The Accidental Time Machine" by Joe Haldeman. I'm hesitant to recommend it because I am a religious man and this book is decidedly anti-religious and the sexual references are somewhat juvenile. But... the basic premise is a sexually frustrated Jewish atheist college lab tech accidentally builds a time machine and when he pushes the button finds himself in a future where much of technology has been lost, but not all of it. It's not a survival novel per se but the author takes the sudden lack of technology seriously and the main character is Jewish (New Reform or some made-up future name).

It is a little too predictable and not up to the standard of Haldeman's other novels. Nevertheless it wasn't horrible so I'm saying check it out at the library and see if you like it.

Christians should avoid it. It seems to be poking fun at the "Left Behind" series.

Anonymous said...

Great post. "where to start" is, I belive, always the most difficult question. "Where to start from a Jewish Perspective" I think is even harder, and like you, I've given it much thought. So much of what this all deals with concerns how we will act towards others in what may the greatest times of civic and social need (Read: Katrina). Factor in issues surrounding the use of force in these endevours and you have some real ethical head scratchers. Much of this is what I expect we'll explore here over time.
I second your reading list. I've read "One Second After". Scared me enough that its one of the few books I've asked non-prepper friends to read. Of course my copy of "Patriots" is well worn. While I happen to be in the firearms instruction business at this time, (I was a longtime lwyer and college professor among other things in my prior life)I am not an over the top gun nut. (well, maybe a little.... ;) But I would recommend thumbing through various gun periodicals.. They often have articles on preparedness and survivival, along with interesting firearms recommendations for different survival scenarios. That said, yes, Rawles covers hat stuff quite well, but there are always new developments hitting the market. Anyway, nice posting.

David said...

Alex --Re The Accidental Time Machine... thanks for the heads up and will see if they have it at the library.

MasadaSteve -- Thanks. The first steps are the hardest. It's a lot more fun to purchase 1000 rounds of (pick your favorite caliber)or buy a new rifle than to order 90 MRE's or water filters!