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!

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Water, water everywhere but not drop to drink...safely


There is a survivalist rule of thumb of ‘3’s: 3 minutes without oxygen, 3 days without water, and 3 days without shelter and 3 months without food. Looking at my waistline, maybe 4 months.

In an urban setting and an emergency of short duration, there’s not too much to do or worry about the oxygen. Breathe a deep sigh of relief unless you're in a jet at altitude. Also shelter is a less of a concern; safe shelter is a different matter.

Water is far more important to worry about.

Modern cities are dependent on plumbing. Think about it for a moment. Fresh water that’s safe to drink is within an arm’s reach 24 hours a day. Daily hot water for showers and cleaning dirty dishes is routinely available. Toilets that flush are ubiquitous. All taken for granted. Thank a plumber for making modern life possible.

Our government suggests storing a gallon of water per person per day, and to have at least a 3 day supply on hand as a minimum. Kind of bulky if you’re a family of 4 living in an apartment, and that supply doesn’t take into account water for cooking. More like 2 gallons a day if you want to throw in hygiene and cooking. A bit more if you’re in the South and plan to be active. And even more volume if you go for a 10 day supply. My guess is you don’t and won’t have a 3 day supply. Perhaps I’m projecting, as I don’t have a stash of water.

Now, imagine 10 days without running water in your home or apartment. What would happen in your neighborhood? If you’re in a city, how long before the sidewalks become more like sewers? Stench and more importantly, diseases come immediately to my mind. Google ‘fecal contamination diseases’ and a litany of bad things pop up (poop up?) What about personal hygiene? Small scrapes more easily become infected. Dirty dishes pile up in the kitchen. And most importantly, what do you drink after the Coke and bottled water in the fridge and on the shelves are used up in 3 or 4 days?

Hopefully water trucks will be by in time. Maybe the lines for water will be orderly and not a mass of people elbowing in to the source. Maybe.

First, make sure to have something than can carry water from those trucks.

And if the water trucks aren’t available, here are some options. Make sure to have 2 backup plans. Filters break, bottles of Iodine tablets capsize… you know, Rabbi Murphy!

Make sure to have some water purification tablets –Iodine for questionable water from those trucks or from other reasonably safe sources. Remember that Iodine is light sensitive so protect it from light when stored. Follow the directions! 30 minutes is what the USAF recommended during training for a canteen’s worth of water.

And for those allergic to Iodine, household bleach (usually sold as a 5% solution) can be used:

Treating Water with a 5-6 Percent Liquid Chlorine Bleach Solution

Volume of Water to be Treated

Treating Clear/Cloudy Water:
Bleach Solution to Add

Treating Cloudy, Very Cold, or Surface Water: Bleach Solution to Add

1 quart/1 liter

3 drops

5 drops

1/2 gallon/2 quarts/2 liters

5 drops

10 drops

1 gallon

1/8 teaspoon

1/4 teaspoon

5 gallons

1/2 teaspoon

1 teaspoon

10 gallons

1 teaspoon

2 teaspoons


Drinking from puddles – not so good. I would also worry about water from nearby rivers in an urban area; too many unknowns could happen upstream. One solution to make water safer to drink is, well, a water filter. There’s lots of nifty science stuff involved, how small microbes and viruses and making sure your water filter does not let them pass by.



General Size

Filter Type

Particle Size Rating


Giardia, Cryptosporidium

5 microns or larger

Water filter

1.0–4.0 microns


Cholera, E. coli, Salmonella

0.2–0.5 microns


0.2–1.0 microns


Hepatitis A, rotavirus, Norwalk virus

0.004 microns

Water purifier

to 0.004 microns

Use the above table when checking out the specs for filters. The smaller the filter, the more expensive it is as well as more difficult to push the water through the filter. If you get a filter good through 0.2 microns, follow with a boil to kill those nasty viruses. Two recognized leaders in water filtration are Kataydin ( and Berkey ( I think the folks at Berkley are either getting goofy or greedy in that they are hawking a “Stabilized Oxygen” additive to keep water fresh. Kataydin offers a wide range of products for different needs. They have very nice small to medium size units that work by a little pump and larger ones that are driven by gravity. I would avoid anyone’s “water-bottle’ unit that you have to use your mouth’s suction to pull the water through the filter. There are several other manufacturers out there. These are but two.

Do a bit of research, and get a filter that fits your budget and needs. Running to the local camping store the day the water goes out won’t work.

If the water is contaminated with a lot of silt or large particulate matter, try to pre-filter the water through some cloth (bandana, t-shirt, sock) to get the big stuff out and prolong the life of your filter unit. Also remember that particulate matter makes chemical purification more difficult so if using bleach or iodine, give it extra time to work. Also allow more time if the water is cold. To get rid of that iodine or bleach taste, add some powder mix drink or vitamin C in a pinch. For some, a few drops of single malt scotch is perfect.

Boiling contaminated water to kill organisms is good; there is a lot of talk about how long you need to do so. According to the Wilderness Medical Society, water temperatures above 160° F (70° C) kill all pathogens within 30 minutes and above 185° F (85° C) within a few minutes. So in the time it takes for the water to reach the boiling point (212° F or 100° C) from 160° F (70° C), all pathogens will be killed, even at high altitude." See Even so, for my piece of mind, I will boil for 5 minutes. I may change my mind on this if fuel is scarce.

Water, it may not be ever-present in an emergency. You need some type of container for transport if water trucks or other sources are available and accessible. Short of that, there is boiling, chemical purification (Iodine and common bleach), and physical filters. Dying or becoming seriously ill from a water-borne disease or dehydration is easily avoidable. Don’t become a statistic.

Great Free Resource!

Once you go through their quick free sign up, you can get free book downloads of invaluable materials from Hesperian, like, "Where there is no Doctor", "Where there is no Dentist" Etc. All highly recommended. Of course, unless you have a 'hardened laptop' with that runs on solar power, I'd recommend printing the material after downloading. (some of the books are quite thick and it might be more prudent to buy the print version unless you have access to a free printing source!) Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Twightlight Zone - The Shelter

I think this classic episode about says it all...What would you do???


Prepping for Defense

First, the best defense is being unnoticed, whether that’s you as an individual, group, or home.

In an emergency situation, it would be foolhardy to be sipping from your Camelbak while munching on M&Ms from one hand while holding an MRE in your other hand while you walk past unprepared people who are hungry and thirsty. I just saw some pictures from the relief efforts in Haiti; the rush on food and water delivery was nothing short of chaotic. I do not want to have to experience the mad rush on the relief workers. I want and will avoid that by being prepared. Likewise, it would be poor ‘op sec’ (operational security) to have the interior of your home lit up by flashlights or whatever while you BBQ a few steaks in the backyard while neighbors or passerby’s are struggling in the dark, cold and hungry. Op sec has been discussed in numerous blogs, and I would suggest reviewing the material at That site has incredible depth and is worth your time to carefully review and learn. Mr. Rawles is also the author of PATRIOTS, a novel of collapse of the American economy (prescient given that it was written in 1990 or so.) Actually, it is more of an ‘how to prep’ manual disguised as a novel.

Mr. Rawles has done a far better job, and continues to do a far better job, than I ever could discussing the myriad of details that come under the umbrella of survival. What sets this site apart is in the details. We are trying to primarily serve the Jewish community, and since we are over-represented in cities and suburbs and under-represented in the countryside and farmland, our focus will be more towards suburban and urban folks. Apologies to any Jewish farmers or ranchers. Much of my focus will be on surviving short to moderate duration ‘contingencies’ rather than a TEOTWAWKI (The End Of The World As We Know It) scenario –for now.

So, the first step to defending yourself, family and friends – as a prepper – is to be able to help others as you are able without revealing your well-prepared state or location also avoid being over-run and having your supplies forcibly taken. It’s nice to share, but not to be ripped off. The second step of defending yourself, family and friends, is just that: defend yourself.

OK, so you blew it out of the kindness of your heart, your tzadka is biting you in the ass and there are people demanding more water/food than you can safely give them. Their demands would put you and yours in the position of running out of water that very night. You can accept going without food for a week, but not water. What then? Morally, you do have the right to defend ‘only water’ if your life depends on it. The Talmud (and forgive my terrible paraphrasing ) says that if you are stuck in the desert with only enough water for you to make it to the next oasis, you do not have to share it for to do so would be akin to suicide. Makes sense to me. There are other biblical sources (see’s ask the rabbi and go ask a rabbi).

Here comes the hard part. You got water enough for another 8 days and the ‘contingency’ looks like it will be a short one (let’s imagine that it is weather related) and help is on the way and expected to be up and running to serve the 1000’s, perhaps 10,000’s that need it. You can’t just turn on the water-hose for in this scenario, the water supply has been contaminated from the storm. You guess that water trucks protected by the National Guard will be by in another 3 or 4 days. Food will be by in 4 or 5 days. You have given away as much water as you feel safe giving away. But it’s not enough for the 100 or so people milling about on your front lawn who want more and are demanding more. Some are shouting out “hoarder”. More are gathering as the crowd (mob?) follows the shouts to learn that you gave away a whole case of bottled water earlier in the day from your front steps. The shouting gives way to people banging on your front door, People are now streaming around both sides of your house, looking for another way in… You now have two options.

Option 1. Give away all your water. Maybe the crowd will believe you when you tell them you have no more and will leave. Maybe they won’t and will want to search your home for more water and maybe some food too. If you’re smart enough to stash water, maybe you’re smart enough to stash some food too! Maybe they won’t trash you home (or apartment) as they search, maybe they will wipe their feet before entering. Maybe they won’t take out their frustration and fear on your home, you, your wife, and kids. Maybe. Jews don’t fare too well in mobs. Dang mizzuzah gave you away. You shout to go away. A rock crashes through your bay window. Uhh, you shout even louder for them to leave. Your panicked wife looks at the phone in disbelief as it continues to tell her that her message to 911 is important and to wait for the next available operator. She’s been holding for 10 or 15 minutes already. You know most of the Police are busy elsewhere protecting the mini-malls from looters. The front door is being forced off its hinges and someone is starting to crawl through the bay window. Gather up your family and run, rabbit, run. You now have joined the ranks of the unprepared, and maybe worse as you will do anything to keep your wife and children alive. Much like those people rummaging through your home for more water.

Option 2. While the people are shouting, you strap on your holstered 45 ACP sidearm to your hip and grab your shotgun. Your wife grabbed her 9mm pistol and holstered it, and her semiauto rifle in 5.56. Your 15 year old son (he is bar mitzvahed—and treated like a man), has his 308 bolt-action rifle, your 17 year old daughter refused to learn how to shoot and stands there looking scared. Your wife give her the phone to monitor, more to keep her busy than in hopes 911 will answer. Everyone armed remembered to put on their hearing protection – guns are loud and can really mess with your hearing! You go out the front door, with your wife and son covering you right and left . You then shout “Please leave. I have given out all the water I can spare.” A chorus of “bullshit” returns, and the crowd does not disperse. You aim the shotgun at the ground halfway between you and the crowd and let off 2 rounds. The blasts quiets the crowd and the resulting damage to the lawn makes the aggressors in front rethink their plans and they back off. Your son then goes to the back of the house to ‘patrol it’. You consider your options as you watch the mob disperse.

I like option #2 a bit better. My theoretical wife remained safe as did my children. My wife and daughter did not get raped. My son and I did not get beaten. My home and its memory-laden items remained safe. And the family has enough food and water to last a week if rationed carefully.

The two counter arguments I see forming in my head are: A)People will not force their way into your house for just water. My answer: BS, the veneer of civilized behavior is thinner than we like to believe. Germany was the epitome of civilized European in the early 20th century. That didn’t turn out too well for us. Remember the LA riots? Ohh, you live in a nice part of town or a nice suburb? Great, and unless you have a moat, those living in less desirable parts know exactly where to go. And your quaint Police force… well, they may be taking care of their own families and absent from work or be hopelessly outnumbered and given orders to protect infrastructure that does not include you. I think the Police force down in LA are still looking for replacements of cops that left Katrina. And B) They will not run from a warning shot and you don’t have enough ammo to kill everyone. My answer: Even cockroaches run when the light goes on in the middle of the night. If the crowd, now a mob, continues to advance despite the warning shot, then I would find out if I had courage to shoot to stop the closest member of the mob and protect me and mine or would I piss in my pants. Likely after a few of the mob are hit –wounded or dead – the rest will search elsewhere. Screaming wounded and blood splatter probably work better than police sirens for dispersing an angry, hungry mob. Once a mob gets started, I have grave doubts that the looters would stop after taking food and water. And I am not talking about having nice insured objects stolen, but rather the safety of my family.

OK, I have made a cheesy scenario to defend the need for weapons. Maybe everyone will be peaceful, help each other, and share with anyone that has less. That would be great. The money spent on rifles, pistols, ammunition, and etc should have been spent on a pretty saddle for the unicorn that’s walking down the street. Still, I got the cheesy scenario. Think of a more realistic one. Maybe next year the N1H1 flu lives up to its hype, and one out four truck drivers are too ill drive, and one out of four electrical workers are too ill to repair and maintain the power wires. Of the remaining 75%, one out of three stay home, leaving only ½ the usual manpower, and there is less and less food being unloaded at night at your grocery store. No matter how cheesy my scenario might be, how likely do YOU think some really bad event will take place in the next 10 or 15 years? If you wait until you think something bad will very likely happen in a few weeks, you are probably too late. You need time to learn, to stash some food that has a good shelf life, and to learn how to use a weapon(s).

Step 1. Come to the realization that you might need a weapon(s) to protect the lives of you and yours, and that it is far better to have a weapon and not need it than the converse. Until you can wrap your head around that idea and accept it, do more research and return when you're ready to defend yourself and your loved ones rather than watch them getting raped and beaten.

Step 2. Do your research and education, with hands-on ‘labs’, ie training. I liked Boston’s Gun Bible, and there are many other great sources. Books go only so far. Get to gun shop/gun range and rent some pistols and rifles. See what feels right in your hands. Appleseed Shoot.

Step 3. Try and figure out what weapons will serve your needs the best. If you live in SoHo in NYC, well, first get a lawyer to see what weapons you can legally own. I think you are kind of screwed. Hopefully, NYC will do better than most cities to take of its sheep, err, citizens because of its experience with terrorists. As seen in Washington DC this year, empowering civilians to protect themselves dramatically decreased the murder rate in that city (see If you live in a urban center, what are your plans? Try and get to Aunt Sadie in the ‘burbs? Hunker down in your apartment? Just GOOD (Get Out Of Dodge)? Do you live in the suburbs? How far is your line of sight, your field of fire?


Round: Often thought of as the ‘bullet’. A round is composed of the bullet (the projectile part of the round), the casing which holds the bullet, gun powder and primer.

Caliber: There are several ways to describe a weapon’s round. Sometimes described as width in as a fraction of 1 inch. You have heard of a ‘45’, which translates into a round that is 0.45 on an inch wide, often written as ‘.45’ or out of laziness the decimal is also dropped off as written as ‘45’. Sometimes caliber is measured in mm like the famous 9m round. Some other common calibers are the .22, the .223 (of the M16 fame), .308, 7.62 .357 and on and on. The other descriptor for bullets is the length, and you see ‘7.62x51’. Please note that the .22 caliber is often thought of as a small little bullet is 0.003 of an inch skinnier than the .223 which is also equal to 5.56 mm. Thus the famous M16 and its many variants (often referred to as assault rifles) shoot a bullet a smidge wider than a .22. The difference is the .223/5.56 round has more gunpowder and the bullet travels much faster. Kinetic energy = mass X velocity squared.

The .223 and 5.56 rounds are very similar and can be shot interchangeably with the following warning. The rounds are not equivalent. The military version (5.56 mm) develops higher pressures in the rifle when fired and should not be shot in a rifle that is solely chambered for a .223 as the higher pressure can cause damage to rifle and things near it like your face when fired. A .223 can be safely fired in a rifle chambered for a 5.56 round.

To make it more confusing, the civilian .308 is of the same diameter as the military 7.62X51 but in this case, the civilian round develops more pressure than the military round. Again, make sure you don’t shoot a .308 in a rifle that is made just for the 7.62X51. However, most 7.62 rifles can accept either.

Magazine. Often referred to as a ‘clip’ but is wrong and will earn scowls if used. A magazine holds rounds and comes in various capacities for the same weapon, that is, you can buy a magazine that can hold 4, 10 or 30 rounds for many rifles. “High capacity’ magazines are a fallacy purported by those who fear firearms. More correct is ‘full capacity’ magazines. If you are ‘allowed’ to defend yourself, how many rounds should the government allow you to use?

Speed loaders: Little gizmos that hold rounds in a circle to allow fast reloading of revolvers.

Bolt-action (rifle): You need to pull back the bolt of the rifle after each shot to reload another bullet. Sometimes you have to manually reload the round, sometimes there is a magazine that feeds another round. The key here is that you have pull the bolt back and then forward to get another round ready to shoot. Very manual.

Semiautomatic: Each time you pull the trigger, the weapon shoots once and puts another round in the barrel ready to shoot again (requires another pull of the trigger).

Automatic: Once you pull the trigger, the weapon shoots bullet after bullet until you let go of the trigger or the magazine runs out of rounds.

Rifling: Grooves cut into the interior surface of a weapon’s barrel which makes the bullet spin along its axis when fired to greatly increase accuracy. Rifling can be “1:10’ or “1:12” or whatever, with 10 revolutions to the foot or 12 revolutions to the foot. This becomes important when selecting the weight of the bullet (more later)


It’s been said that pistols are great for buying you time to get to your rifle. The really nice thing about pistols is that they easily stay with you. Fine indeed. A pistol on your hip beats a rifle leaning against the wall 15 feet away.

There are basically two flavors of pistol. Revolvers (aka ‘wheel guns’) and semiautomatic pistols. There are automatic pistols out there but let’s forget about them.

Revolvers are great until you need to reload. They have an edge in reliability over semi-autos, but less and less as semiautos have become increasingly reliable. Revolvers can be left alone for longer periods of time and still shoot well, where there could be some doubt leaving a semiautomatic for a long period and expect it to perform well because of the increased complexity of a semiauto.

I know little about revolvers beyond this; I don’t own a revolver and have little interest in them. If you really want to learn about revolvers, I’m not the guy to read. Thank God for Google. One nifty revolver is the newish “The Judge” made by Taurus ( It’s a large revolver that can shoot either small shot gun shells or large bullets. Shooting buckshot in an urban setting is safer in that it is nearly impossible for it to penetrate the sheetrock wall and injure someone on the other side. Also shooting buckshot means spot-on aiming is less of a concern. The kick when shooting the shotgun shells is surprisingly light and should be easily controlled by people of smaller stature.

As far as reliability goes, there seems to be an inverse relationship between reliability and accuracy, most notable at the extremes. Super accurate target pistols or rifles need to be babied every which way, thoroughly cleaned after relatively few shots through them. To get accurate, there is less and less play in the parts which means smaller and smaller pieces of crud can mess things up. Increased reliability often means looser tolerances which is not good for accuracy. The AK 47 is famous for both its reliability (an Israeli soldier once told me ‘you can piss on it then throw it in the sand and it will still fire’; I told him that he did not have to demonstrate much to his disappointment). Most rifles and pistols today do a great job of being accurate without being finicky and reliable with being inaccurate. Again, this is more of a problem at extremes.

Semiauto’s are great. They are accurate, generally hold more rounds in the magazine than a revolver and are a heck of a lot easier to reload (pop out the empty magazine and slide in a loaded magazine, can be done in about 1 second with practice. One second is a long time in a gun fight.)

The two basic flavors of semiautos are the Glock frame and the 1911 frame. Neither frame is perfect and you have to figure which tradeoffs work for you.

Glocks are well known for their reliability, accuracy and price. They are quickly and easily disassembled into about 3 main pieces and no small widgets to lose. Glocks are also famous for their reliability and don’t require frequent cleaning. That said, I still clean mine after each trip to the range.

1911 frames are also reliable and accurate but have more pieces than a Glock and more pieces means there are more things that can go wrong. Disassembling a 1911 is more difficult and hence more time consuming compared to a Glock. Small pieces are more likely to get lost. That said, they are the gold standard, and have lots of strong points.

The Glock is interesting because of its safety mechanism. It’s a little bar that protrudes up from the middle of the trigger. The protrusion needs to be depressed for the gun to go bang. Basically, pull the trigger and it goes bang because your finger pushes the bar down because the bar is in the middle of the trigger. This is great in a high stress situation where you may forget to disengage a safety if you were using a 1911 frame. Not so great in low stress situations where you are searching for your pistol in a range bag. If there is a round in the barrel, it will shoot if the trigger/safety bar is depressed whether or not there is a magazine in the handle or not. With a Glock, the biggest safety feature resides in your brain. Because that little bar is the only thing holding back a bullet, I no longer carry my Glock with a round in the chamber. In an emergency situation, I better remember to pull back the slide and chamber a round. I am leaning to getting a 1911 frame so I can carry “cocked and locked”. See below.

1911’s have more safety features which very between manufactures and models. Some will not fire unless the magazine is in place. There are good and bad points about this. Some have a safety feature in the handle which gets depressed as you grip the weapon. Again, like everything else, there are pros and cons to this (eg what if your hand is injured and you cannot grasp the handle completely – the pistol might not fire). And there is the basic ‘safety/decocking’ lever activated by your thumb. In this fashion, you can carry the pistol with a round in the chamber and the hammer in a cocked position but with the safety/decocking’ lever on safe. To fire, your thumb pushes the lever to the ‘fire’ position and you're ready to go. In my opinion, that is safer than walking around with a round in the chamber of a Glock. There are plenty of people that feel otherwise, and if you are one of them, please don’t flame me, this is just my opinion.

So let’s say you’ve decided on getting a Glock semiautomatic pistol as your sidearm. What caliber? There are huge argument about this, causing divorces, feuds (it’s the real reason behind the Hatfield-McCoy feuds), and the like. I do not think a 22 pistol is a good choice unless that is all you can safely shoot. However, getting a .22 pistol for learning purposes is great. The rounds are cheap so you will shoot a lot, the recoil and noise is quite manageable and will make the development of bad habits like flinching less likely and the development of good habits more likely. And once you ‘graduate’ to a larger caliber meant to defend yourself, you can turn somebody else on to pistol shooting using your .22.

The best answer I think is to carry the biggest caliber that you can manage. Sometimes a full sized.45 caliber pistol is too difficult to carry in a concealed fashion because you live in Miami and its 100 degrees outside and it doesn’t fit in your speedo. A sports coat is out of the question! Or you are of a smaller stature and your wrist is overpowered by the recoil of a .45. See if a .40 works, if that’s still too big, a 9mm and so on. Dang, maybe you’re a big person and can handle a .50 caliber pistol.

Whether or not you want the option to get a concealed weapon permit is up to you. I suggest it if only to make trips back and forth to the shooting range easier to accomplish legally even if you do not carry your sidearm on a daily basis. I also think the more ‘normal’ people carry a sidearm, the better. Each time a nice normal person decides to carry, that makes the per centage of kooks carrying a sidearm drop a little bit. Also as “PR”, as a nice normal gal who carries a pistol, maybe your example empowers a friend to do the same. You may save someone’s life indirectly, but I digress.

Get trained. This can be as simple as a friend showing you the basics, the gunshop’s class or classes, or going to a ‘combat pistol class’. Depends on what you like. But remember, you are learning to shoot to protect yourself, this means you are learning to shoot individuals intending to maim or kill you and yours. The army learned that the transition from shooting bulls-eye type targets to enemy soldiers was more difficult than if silhouette-type targets were used. On the battlefield, the enemy in the distance looks like a silhouette, not a dayglow dot with circles around it. Train like you fight. Use silhouette targets as often as you can.

RIFLES:Oy, what a topic. The Hatfields-McCoy feud was made even worse discussing self defense rifles. Here is my take.

First, you will need two. Just as you have different knives for different purposes in your kitchen, you will need two basic types of rifles, each with its own niche. And if you have a sushi knife, a bread knife, a carving knife, and a bunch steak knives and the like without being a ‘knife-nut’, owning two rifles doesn’t make you a rifle nut. It makes you prepared.


You may need a shotgun for its ability to hit a close target without much in the way of aiming. You will want it a bit on the short side to be able to maneuver it hallways and through doors if necessary. There is an inverse relationship between barrel length and range. You're not going to be shooting ducks with it, so keep it short. I would also suggest a semiauto shotgun which has the capability to keep at least 5 rounds in its magazine. A sling is a must for weapon retention. A sling will keep the shotgun with you if you trip or if someone tries to grab it. Some have external magazines which are great if you need to reload, just switch out the empty mag for a fully loaded one. It will be a bad thing if you need to reload that rapidly.


I’m cringing as a type this. The other rifle you will need is a semiautomatic rifle, erroneously referred to as “assault rifles” (assault rifles are fully automatic – that is, it’s a machine gun). The ‘Evil Black Rifle’ (EBR) is perfect for self defense and there are many many variations on this type of weapon for that very reason.

Here’s the part I fear to type, for just as there is no perfect caliber in pistols, the same is true for rifles. I am suggesting a .308/7.62X51 rifle, if you can handle the greater weight of that type of rifle as well as greater recoil. Briefly, a 308 round will go through a car door like tissue paper where the more common .223/5.56 round will have trouble. If the aggressor is taking cover behind the 7” trunk of the oak tree in your front yard, the .308 will punch through it, the 5.56 wont. I know many of the arguments in favor the 5.56 but if the aggressor has taken cover, I will stand a better chance of surviving by shooting through the barricade.

Do not start with a .308! You do not learn to drive in a Ferrari! I would suggest that like pistols, you start with a .22 caliber rifle in an ‘EBR’ type of frame. Cheap ammo, minimal kick, minimal noise and you will be less likely to develop bad habits. Also, if the shit really turns bad, a .22 rifle leaves a lot more meat on a squirrel than a .308 or .223!

What the lawmakers don’t understand (maybe they do and fear civilians with effective weapons) is that what they call ‘assault’ features on a rifle actually make the weapon safer. The infamous pistol grip makes your grip more secure. A front vertical grip also makes your grip more secure. And adjustable stock makes for a better fit, kind of like the adjustable front seat of you car. Loading via an external magazine marginally adds some safety because it’s a bit easier to determine if the rifle is loaded. Yes, there can a round in the chamber while the magazine is on the floor. But it is easier to clear one round, rather than a hunting rifle which holds several rounds in an internal magazine… you may clear 3 rounds leaving a fourth. I digress again.

Once you are comfortable and accurate with your 22 rifle, its time to move up.

If you are in an urban/suburban neighborhood, any discussion of rounds that shoot more than 800 yards is kind of silly. A .308 can accurately shoot 800 yards if the shooter is up to it; the first time I shot a .308 I went from one hundred yards to 300 yards in one afternoon. I was not able to shoot my 5.56 accurately at 300 yards despite far more practice. I traded the 5.56 the first opportunity I had. There are many good arguments and good counter arguments between the two calibers. There is no ‘right’ answer for everyone; there may be a right answer for you.

In any event, lets keep the argument brief. Read other sources, and if you read Boston’s Gun Bible, you will see I agree with his opinions.

Again, back to my cheesy scenario. This time, 2days later, some of the now hungrier and thirstier mob have gotten a few .223/5.56 rifles and are taking shots at you 70 - 100 yards away behind cover of a minivan, a stone fence and a dumpster. Relief trucks have yet to arrive and you haven’t seen a cop since the whole thing began. Out of range for the shotgun, probably the pistol, leaving the .308 and .223/5.56. Simply put, the 5.56 will bounce off the car, the stone fence and the metal dumpster. The .308 will penetrate the car’s metal, may penetrate the stone fence (!) and will penetrate the metal dumpster. End of fight. OK, if you are accurate enough while someone is shooting you, grab your .22 rifle and put a bullet though an eye. It’s easy enough to punch a hole in the middle of 2 inch dayglow orange disc printed on some paper at 100 yards at a rifle range, but generally people are not going to cooperate by holding perfectly still, and –oh yeah- thy’ll be shooting at you. You will be aiming for ‘center of mass’.

Maybe a better response would be to throw some water bottles and MRE’s towards them and hope they take what they want while you run away from your home with your family in tow. Your call. We are just trying to help you defend yourself when you make the decision that verbal discourse is over.

My bare bone suggestions are:

Pistol: One for every adult, in the same caliber if possible. Caliber needs to be either .40 or .45. Get one of the ‘better’ brands. Might as well buy more magazines than you think you need, especially if you can get full capacity mags as they may impossible to get in a few years. Learn to shot the damn thing accurately and safely! Spend some money on ammo and become comfortable shooting.

Shotgun: I don’t have enough experience with shotguns to make suggestions. Visit some other sites. See, it doesn’t discuss specific shotguns but gives a very good overview of them. You can’t go wrong with a Remington 870 ( or a Mossberg shotgun (

Rifle: Start with a 22 LR, probably get a Ruger 10/22 but get it “dressed” like an EBR. Then either get a .308/7.62X51 or a 5.56/.223 rifle, one for each person in you group that can handle a rifle. Larger folks should get the .308, smaller framed folks the 5.56. Or many just stick with the 5.56 (so all in the group shares the same ammo, if not rifle model). Again, learn to shoot them accurately and safely. Minimally, attend an Appleseed Shoot ( to learn the basics. Women and youths (under 18 I think) train for free. The cost for men for 2 days of shooting is under $100.00.

And as an aside, FNH (Fabrique National Herstal) makes a lot of the weapons used by our military. They have an interesting combo that you may like and well suited for urban areas. They made a new round, a 5.7X28. The round fits both in one of their pistols and their PS90 carbine which they dubbed as a PDW (Personal Defense Weapon). The rifle looked sooooo cool that I splurged and got one. It shoots very, very accurately under 100 yards, which is the purpose it was meant for. It is not for shooting 300 yards. It’s very small and smooth… nothing sticks out like a magazine to get caught on stuff if you need to move through debris or climb a stone wall. Go google it or see for a glossy news release. The magazine can hold 50 rounds (and you can have them if you live in State that allows full capacity magazines otherwise you need to stick with 10 round or 30 round magazines). The rifle has minimal kick to it. Its overall length is very short, but it has a 16 inch barrel for accuracy. Many rifles that have a shorter barrel – and hence less accurate – still have a longer overall length. Some very cool engineering going on. If you pair the rifle and the pistol, you logistics got a whole lot easier – you only need one type of round for your pistol and rifle. The rifle, again, is only suitable for the purpose it was made – urban setting. Hmmm, and where do you live? Mine has an EOTech sight on top and the magazine can hold 50 rounds. I have 5 mags, which means with one mag in the rifle, and the remaining 4 stored with me, I have 250 rounds to protect myself in a very small but accurate package. Overall length is a smidge over 26 inches. It can go in and out of my car easily with me (most other rifles with a 16 inch barrel are much longer and bulkier). In a pinch, I can carry it under a coat. It fits within my GOOD (Get Out OF Dodge) bag. More on GOOD bags and BOB (Bug Out Bags) later. It is almost small and light enough to replace a pistol.

In any event, F&N is a great company, known for building reliable weapons and very good customer service. You will be paying for the quality. If you opt for this combo, skip purchasing the 22 rifle as the PS90 is just sweet to shoot and maybe more fun given its unique shape. A drawback is that it is not in the standard frame of AR’s. With an ‘AR clone’ in a 22 caliber, the next rifle you get (hopefully in .308) will be very similar in function. That is, you load the magazine exactly the same, the rifle comes apart in the exact same fashion (just bigger) and the like. I do not have theFiveseveN pistol (uses the same ammunition so the cache of 5.7 rounds can be used either for the pistol or the rifle which is pretty unique and makes logistics a bit easier) yet, nor any accurate reports on its stopping power. You may want to check out and read about the pair there. Remember, these are folks that just plunked down some serious money for their weapon and may be a bit opinionated.

We will be happy to try to answer specific questions you have.

If you prefer the 5.56 round or AKs, fine; I am not going to argue over it! Those are both tried and true weapons and rounds. Use them well.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Why Prepare? By David

Why Prepare?

I had a short conversation with my brother last night. He is a businessman, a high-echelon exec in a world wide company that you would recognize. At times he ‘commuted’ to South America – flown there by the company on Sunday night and back on Friday night for weeks on end. A trip to Europe is now mundane for him. And a trip to the far East is only good if he can stop at his favorite sushi restaurant in Tokyo. Or steakhouse in Australia. Indonesia is only good when he sees it in the rear view mirror of the limo. Why this background? He is a smart guy, has great business sense, and has worked in and seen the economies of countries throughout the world. He’s got a good global background.

After Shabbas dinner, we had a short conversation on the two recent mileposts China passed. They are now (1) the world’s leading automobile market and (2) lead in values of exports word-wide. I asked him about the potential for the American economy: “Not good”. Being a prepper, I then asked did he think an economic collapse of biblical proportion (it was Shabbos, afterall) was likely. “Yes”. He continued that because America has lost its infrastructure to manufacture, any collapse would be a long one. I then asked what he has done to protect his family from this collapse. His answer disappointed me. He told me he kept a lot of cash at home, has not bought any gold or silver, and has various accounts that could be ‘quickly liquidated into cash’. I know he has no weapons. Now I know he has no food. Hopefully, his paper money will retain some value but he sees hyperinflation ala Zimbabwe and the Weimar Republic as a distinct possibility. I think he has good grip on reality but has been overwhelmed by the thought of the economy doing a nosedive compounded by hyperinflation: no one gets out alive.

So here’s a smart person with means to adequately prepare and not feel a pinch in the budget, and who feels that an economic crisis in the US is likely, and all he’s done is to stash some cash in his home. I was dumbfounded. I would email him links to this site and other prepper sites if I thought there was a chance he would prepare. He’s got 2 beautifully intelligent kids; his oldest boy is in Jr High and at a recent parent-teacher conference, the teacher seriously stated that he better start saving tuition money for Harvard. And yet seeing the writing on the wall, he refuses to read it and act upon it. My few probes discussing prepping where not well received. And I tried to figure out why not.

I think I got it. It’s a mind-set. And a future that he knows is possible but so nightmarish he cannot confront its reality. Perhaps he sees death as unavoidable in such a collapse and no amount of preparation will suffice. Perhaps he feels that if he minimally prepares for a collapse, the collapse will be minimal? Perhaps its fear of looking at a horrible situation in the face and realize how bad it will be.

The earthquake in Haiti accured just a few days ago. Aside from the looting and dire lack of water, I’ve heard that amputations are being done in parking lots without general anesthesia – the level of medicine has reverted to the Civil War era in about 48 hours and likely will take several days to resume some semblance of modernity. Its taken Israel, America and other nations about 72 hours to stage relief efforts, and much more emergency services are needed at 72 hours.

Maybe he’s a sheep, and refuses to look beyond the immediate area to where the sheepdogs (Police/Military/FEMA) watch and will wait for them to come to the rescue. Self-reliance is not an option for him. Hunker down, call 911 when the phone lines again work and wait for a 50lb bag of rice once the small amount of food in the refrigerator and freezer are gone.

Why am I preparing? Some of my impetus is simple common sense. In the event of an emergency, Emergency Services will take at least 72 hours to stage. So the first 72 hours are up to me, and I would rather be fed, hydrated and safe than sleeping in the street as they are doing in Haiti. I do not want to feel the need to become a looter nor do I want to be exposed on the street to looting. I got the first 72 hour down, but nowhere close to getting the first 72 days covered. 72 days, a bit more than 2 months or about 10 weeks. Not very much time but an eternity if there is no electricity, no food deliveries to the local stores, or gas delivery. The disaster in Haiti is not a great example for the US but it is a good example. You’re on your own for at least the first 72 hours, perhaps longer. Full blown help will likely arrive in volume after 72 hours.

Now the reality of storing food. The LDS preparation guide that Josh sited has a great monthly schedule of things to buy so that at the end of 12 months, you are very well situated. I’m in a funk now about that. I could start following the guide( see p. 28 in January’s list: Week 1: A case of canned fruit, 2 #10 cans of instant potatoes; Week 2: 3 #10 cans dry milk; Week 3: Another 3 #10 cans of dried milk; Week 4: 9 pounds yeast; Week 5: Anything missed) but I would need to multiply this to account for my parents, brother’s family of 4, and my sisters/brother-in-law. I cannot do it without their cooperation. I could not turn them away; I would rather go hungry with them than eat without them. Having completed SERE (Survive/Evade/Resist/Escape) training with the USAF, I know first hand how debilitating hunger is, how deep hunger can negatively influence your behavior – whether it is acting like a mensch or taking a risky shortcut.

If there is a large scale emergency with a definite end is sight as opposed to a much longer disaster such as a near-complete economic meltdown (hyperinflation for example), what then? First of all, it will be survivable. Those less prepared will make a crushing mass of people rushing the first relief teams when they first stage –perhaps 72 hours since many have eaten. There will be no etiquette, there will be no orderly lines. There will likely be injuries in the mad dash to get food and water. I hope me and mine will be able to watch on the sidelines and wait until some order is restored before our supplies run out. Additionally, as seen recently in Haiti, looting soon starts after an emergency as Police are overwhelmed and busy elsewhere.

And if it is logical to be prepared for a 72 hour emergency, then it is logical to presume that the future will hold far worse. What about an entire week, or a month. Folks in the Midwest have been without power for weeks due to floods and blizzards in the not too distant past. I am going to assume you do not live in rural farm and ranch country but suburbs within commuting distance to a city or within a city. Imagine some large chunk of the infrastructure goes belly up and interrupts the constant flow of food and energy for a 4 week period. What have you planned?

One of the first things Haitians did following the earthquake was to leave the cities for the suburbs and country side. In the US you would be hard-pressed to be able to walk from an Eastern City past the suburbs to reach country side, which means a mass exodus from cities puts the refugees in the suburbs. If you live in the suburbs, think ahead – what will be your response to hundreds of squatters on your front yard? If you live in a city, what will you do once you’ve walked to the suburbs? And remember, you do what you have planned and trained for, and if there has been no planning, then you might do just that – nothing.

How will you handle squatters on your property? I hope you do the best you can for them, sharing what you can. But what happens when you can’t share as much you want, or as much as they want, because you want to be able to feed your family for several more days rather than share all your food until its gone. Unless you’re a master at martial arts, handling ‘visitors’ who want more than you can give will be a problem, potentially one that threatens your life or your loved ones.
Yes, we will have a talk about firearms.

The odds of being part of a 72 hour emergency in the next 5 years may be greater than no emergency. The US economy is currently in dire straits with both short term and long term problems. The muslim world hates the US (remember the Palestinians dancing in the streets I response to 9/11) and continues to target it. Weather can always become newsworthy. First response to an emergency may take 72 hours.

But for now, I hope I have made an argument of why to prep for an emergency. Minimally for 72 hours, and hopefully more.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Jewish Farm School Gains Traction Among College Students
Jewish Farm School Gains Traction Among College Students Education
By Linda Kriger
Published January 20, 2010, issue of January 29, 2010. Rather than jet to tropical party capitals for spring break, about 105 Jewish college students are choosing to do
something a little different during their time off.
Some will be collecting maple sugar on the East Coast, while others will be working on organic farms in California. At the same time, they will learn about food sustainability, Jewish agricultural laws, medicinal herbs, global food security and the growing food justice movement within the Jewish and secular worlds.
The program, run by Jewish Farm School, with offices in New York and Philadelphia and co-sponsored by Hillel, intends to give students a greater understanding of the complex issues involving sustainable food production. Among the participating schools are New York University, the University of Miami and Arizona State University.
JFS has neither a farm nor a school, but provides a case study on how to carefully develop an organization with big long-term plans. Its gestation has taken five years, parallel to the growth of the Jewish sustainable-food movement.
Nati Passow, 30, a co-founder and director of JFS, became exposed to environmental education when he was a student at the University of Pennsylvania. Co-founder Simcha Schwartz, 31, went to the University of Kansas, where he became interested in farming, then to Israel, where he became more interested in Judaism.
At Penn, Passow completed a double major in religion and environmental studies and drafted the outline for what eventually became JFS: an experiential Jewish environmental program. At the time, his vision did not have a farming component.
In 2003, he contacted then Yale Law student Mark Barnett, who was interested in creating a Jewish farm school. Barnett sent him a 30-page proposal that mapped out his vision. “But it wasn’t his path,” Passow said. “He told us to take it and run with it.”
Passow said that he and Schwartz came to a realization: “It’s a great vision. We have no money. Let’s start small. Let’s run a couple of programs under the name Jewish Farm School and see what happens.”
One of the JFS’s first goals, Passow said, was to highlight all the “awesome things happening in Philly: city harvest, urban farmers, PhillyCarShare, people advocating for better mass transit.” Thus, in 2007, JFS started an Urban Sustainability Series, offering speakers, hands-on workshops and a Sabbath gathering, all co-sponsored by the Kol Tzedek Reconstructionist synagogue in West Philadelphia. The series has been held each fall for the past three years.
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The partnership with Hillel was the next big step. In January 2008, JFS offered a farming component to Hillel’s community service program. “They knew the model worked,“ Passow said. “They had done work in New Orleans after Katrina, and they wanted to work on food by having students take alternative breaks on farms. The first year, we did a summer pilot project on the Kayam farm in Maryland and one on the Oz farm in Mendocino County, California. Each trip had 10 students. It was very successful.”
Last summer, there were four trips with 75 students, and this year the school is running six spring and summer trips for 105 students. JFS’s next project is to create an educational farm at Eden Village Camp in Putnam Valley, N.Y. The camp is located on land owned by UJA-Federation of New York, about an hour north of New York City. Yoni Stadlin, who heads the camp, wants to focus on Jewish environmentalism, social justice and spirituality. He asked JFS to oversee the farming education piece.
JFS and Eden Village recently received a grant from the Natan Fund to run additional off-season programs on that site, including monthly nights of learning, art and music; a Sukkot festival, and monthly Sunday volunteer days to work on the farm, Schwartz said.
Recently, JFS began a consulting and outreach department called Cooperative Design. The organization gets calls from synagogues and Jewish community centers that want to start a garden on site and don’t know how to do it. JFS also helps private landowners who want their land to serve an educational or public interest function. Currently, JFS is working with a synagogue in northern New Jersey and with a Chicago family with land in Geneva, Ill., that wants to turn that land into an educational farm.
Last summer, JFS was accepted into an incubator program called Bikkurim. Based in New York City, Bikkurim nurtures new organizations by providing office space and organizational development assistance for up to five years. Passow and Schwartz are grateful for the help.
“We’re learning how to do it right,” Passow said. “So many organizations end up saying yes to everything, biting off more than they can chew, or growing at a rate that’s too fast for their own good. This is an opportunity to grow in a managed and sustainable way.”
There is a long-term agenda that JFS wants to pursue.
“We need to start making careers out of Jewish farming,” Schwartz said. “A reason why I helped found the Jewish Farm School was to educate people about Judaism and farming in a community. I want them also to learn how to make farming meaningful and to earn a potential livelihood.”
Linda Kriger is a freelance writer living in Philadelphia.
Copyright © 2010, Forward Association, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

This is why we need HAM operators in emergency situations!

Low-tech radios connect some Haitians

By John D. Sutter, CNN
  • Amateur radio provides a back-up link between Haiti and the world
  • Proponents say radio signals are often the only way to communicate after a disaster
  • A Haitian man says amateur radio helped him contact family in the U.S.
  • After initial outages, mobile phone service has been returning to Haiti

(CNN) -- In the brutal aftermath of Haiti's earthquake, Jean-Robert Gaillard turned to his low-tech radio for solace and for a lifeline.

When the earthquake hit, the 57-year-old from Petionville, Haiti, found most of his normal lines of communication -- his cell phone, the Internet, even his ability to walk down the street and talk to someone -- severed by the disaster.

But Gaillard used a neighbor's generator to power up his radio and connect to a handful of amateur radio enthusiasts in the United States -- many of whom were eagerly listening to radio static for calls like his.

Unlike many other people in Haiti, Gaillard was able to contact family members in the United States soon after the January 12 earthquake hit to tell them he had survived.

In those first hellish moments, that connection seemed like a miracle.

"It relieved the tension of my family members," he said, speaking by Skype from Haiti on Tuesday, which he says wasn't possible until more recently. "They could hear my voice. They knew that I was OK."

Much has been made about the role flashier technologies like Twitter, Skype and text messaging have played in helping disaster victims find loved ones and communicate with international aid workers. But it is worth noting that, when all else fails, the low-tech hum of a radio frequency is sometimes the only line of communication that's open.

iReport: Search list of the missing and the found

Enthusiasts of amateur radio -- or ham radio -- are quick to use this as evidence that international aid groups and governments should rely more heavily on radio in disaster situations. Ham radio signals bounce off of a layer of charged particles in Earth's atmosphere, called the ionosphere, and, depending on the conditions, can work at times when other modes of communication fail.

But amateur radio is best viewed as one of many communications options in the wake of a disaster, said Keith Robertory, manager of disaster services technology at the American Red Cross, who has been helping in Haiti relief efforts from Washington.

The best communication technology in a disaster, he said, is whatever happens to work at the time.

"Amateur radio is a very powerful tool if the amateur radio operators are in the area where the disaster occurs," he said. "There's a window of opportunity for amateur radio operators right at the beginning [of a disaster]. ... That's where they are extremely valuable."

Because that window has now passed, cell phone connections, text messages, Twitter posts and Skype calls are becoming more significant, he said.

A 23-year-old woman, for example, was rescued in Haiti after text messages were sent from beneath the rubble of a school building.

Full coverage | Twitter updates

Radio stations in Port-au-Prince, the Haitian capital, have been broadcasting almost since the earthquake, providing the only means of communication for some people, Agence France-Presse reports.

Some mobile phone towers in Haiti fell during the earthquake, and cell phone service was not returned to much of the country until at least two days after the tremors first shook the poor Caribbean nation, according to a mobile phone company operating in Haiti.

About a third of people in Haiti have access to mobile phones, compared to nearly 90 percent of people in the United States.

Reports suggest Internet connections also were spotty in the earthquake's aftermath; and only about 11 percent of Haitians have access to the Web in non-disaster situations, according to the CIA World Factbook.

Aid groups and journalists have relied on satellite phones, which work independently from local Internet and mobile phone infrastructure as long as the sky isn't too cloudy.

Such technology isn't commonly available for disaster victims, however.

Carol Wilson, compliance director for Trilogy International Partners, which provides mobile phone service to about 1 million people in Haiti, said 80 percent of the company's cell towers in Haiti were working as of Tuesday.

The company is donating out $5 worth of free phone calls to its customers and is giving people double the amount of minutes they would normally get so they can catch up with loved ones and communicate with aid groups, she said.

The main problem with mobile phone connections now, she said, may be fuel, since generators are used to power most cellular towers in Haiti.

In the immediate wake of the disaster, before cell phone coverage was restored, William F. Sturridge, a ham radio operator in Flagler Beach, Florida, said he was able to connect a priest living on the remote Haitian village of Ile-a-Vache with his family members in the United States.

On Wednesday morning, the day after the earthquake hit, he said he heard a faint call of "hotel, hotel," which signifies the "HH" letters at the beginning of radio call signs in Haiti. He responded immediately.

"When other systems don't work, [radio] always works," he said. "It doesn't matter -- no matter where you are in the world ... you can get a [high-frequency] signal out and somebody will hear."

After connecting with the priest in Haiti, Sturridge said he called the man's brother to tell him his sibling had survived the earthquake.

"He was super worried," he said. "They hadn't heard from him, and it was wonderful to be able to pass the information and hear the relief in the voice."

Sturridge said he's been listening for radio calls from Haiti almost non-stop, with no sleep, since the earthquake hit a week ago. The 51-year-old is disabled, and he said the radio gives him a lifeline to the outside world as well.

"It's very difficult for someone who is bed-bound to be able to work and be able to enjoy the benefits of helping other people, so this is one way I can do this very easily," he said.

"Certainly, I can't think of anything more rewarding than saving a life."

While the ability for even one person to communicate with the outside world immediately after a disaster has potentially huge impact, the number of people making calls from Haiti by amateur radio appears to be very small.

Brian Crow, who has been communicating with people in Haiti by radio from outside Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, said only three people in Haiti have made contact with the United States by ham radio since the earthquake.

Crow said his primary role has been taking calls, finding out what aid is needed, and relaying the information to Web sites collecting news about missing people.

A number of sites -- including CNN's iReport and Google -- are creating databases with information about missing people in Haiti.

Other groups have put together population estimates based on satellite maps as a way for aid groups to target their relief efforts. And a site called Ushahidi is mapping text messages and calls for help in Haiti to give aid groups a better picture of dire needs for food, water and medical help.

Gaillard, the Haitian man who used ham radio to contact loved ones, said the week following Haiti's earthquake has been absolute hell.

But the fact that he could get on the radio and talk to people outside the situation made him feel connected to the world and has given him the strength to keep going.

"We are in God's hands now," he said.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Biblical Sources

Just to add two more Biblical sources to David's posting regarding the first preppers:

Prior to Joseph storing food for seven years...

When Esau was to meet up with Jacob. He feared that he would be killed and took the initiative to divide his family, flock and belongings into two camps. Should one camp be overridden the other would survive.

The second example, and perhaps the most famous, is that of Noah and his preparations for hundreds of years for the eventual flood and destruction of the world!

I'm sure there are many more examples from the Torah. Please let us know what you can come up with...

Friday, January 8, 2010

LDS Preparedness

Maybe we have something to learn from the Mormons...

I just ordered a Family Home Storage Starter Kit from the LDS website.

You are not required to be a member and for less than $30 you can get a box of great dry grains, rice and beans with a shelf life of 30+ years!

I'll let you know more when I receive it...stay tuned!

I will also add a link to their pdf 'survival guide'. If you can see beyond their theological hype, they have a lot of good information! Perhaps we should create a Jewish version of this booklet...


Sunday, January 3, 2010

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.