Most people don’t know the history of bagels. Beginning as a simple piece of bread, it wasn’t until Moses shot a 9mm bullet through the center of the doughy-delicacy, piercing an aesthetically pleasing hole, that the first “holy” breakfast food for the Hebrew people was created. Now a staple in every Jewish kitchen, we often forget to appreciate the history of what has become synonymous with Jewish soul food.
Okay, maybe Moses didn’t own a handgun, and tracing the origins of bagels can be discussed later. However, Jews with guns is a topic which interests many people in Orange County. Recently, roughly 125 individuals, mainly but not exclusively Jewish, came together for the “Bullets & Bagels” event on August 23 at Raahauges Outdoor Range in Corona to share their passion for firearms.
Bullets & Bagels, founded in 2013 by prominent mohel, physician, and gun-enthusiast Dr. Fred Kogen, is a non-profit offering a comfortable, supervised venue for networking, firearm education and safety, and of course, noshing. The organization, rooted in a fervor to exercise our Second Amendment rights, provides enjoyment for not only firearm aficionados, and also “gun virgins.”
At the August event, members including Rabbis, NYPD officers, college students, doctors, and lawyers had the opportunity to test Israeli-made weaponry like the combat-proven Tavor, Jericho 941FS and Galil Rifle, all courtesy of Israeli Weapons Industry, US (IWI).
When participants weren’t testing out the IWI products and meeting vendors, they were schmoozing, discussing politics, Israel, and guns near the buffet of endless-eats. Starting with a breakfast medley of custom Got Kosher and Katella Deli bagels, juices, and fresh-fruits, the culinary experience progressed to lunch platters, which included mile-high sandwich options, Mangiamo’s Gelato, and a plethora of ice-cold drinks. And cool drinks were just what was needed to satiate the shooters who were putting bullets through bullseyes in temperatures reaching the mid-90’s.
Though an event with guns may sound intimidating, rest-assured the environment was friendly, fun, not overwhelmingly political and extremely safe. The plentitude of volunteer NRA instructors helped provide the novice participants with a sense of comfort in firing a weapon, a skill oft unappreciated until acquired, yet on the minds of many Jews in today’s society.
“Come a little closer, Mike, I’m not going to circumcise you,” joked Kogen, as he introduced Michael Kassnar of IWI. “Anytime we get to show the world that not all Jews are anti-gun, that’s a good thing,” said Kassnar, before welcoming Hollywood actor Joe Mantegna from “Criminal Minds” and “The Godfather Part III,” who led an entertaining auction of three state-of-the-art Tavor rifles, with proceeds earmarked for the FIDF.
It may’ve been a “Schmiracle” to get over 100 Jews in the middle of Corona, but after another successful event, Kogen has hopes of accruing 250 members by year’s end, and expanding beyond California. Jlife encourages readers to step outside their comfort zone and aim their sites on Bullets & Bagels, it’s worth a shot! If you’d like to “Ready, Aim, Shmear!” visit www.bullets-bagels.com.
Adam Chester studied Psychology at UCSD and is the NextGen Outreach & Engagement Coordinator at JFFS.