(November 18, 2019 / JNS) Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein of Chabad of Poway, which was targeted in April by a teenage lone gunman who killed one woman and injured two others, has retired, announced the synagogue.
Goldstein founded the synagogue in 1996. His son, Rabbi Mendel Goldstein, will lead Chabad of Poway and its religious school.
“We are grateful for Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein’s 30-plus years of leadership, especially in the aftermath of the terror attack, and he will forever be a part of our community’s story,” said the synagogue in a statement on Friday.
“As a community, we have suffered a great deal, more than any community should know of,” added the statement. “We are working hard to heal and get back on our feet, and now, under the leadership of Rabbi Mendel Goldstein, we look forward to continue to grow and create more light and goodness around us.”
Less than a week after the April 27 shooting, Goldstein stood in the Rose Garden at the White House with U.S. President Donald Trump standing behind him and said “it was that moment that I made a decision: No matter what happens to me, I’m going to save as many people as possible.”
“I should’ve been dead by now, based on the rule of statistics,” he said, considering the bullet fire that injured his hands and caused the loss of his right index finger and injured another.
“But I did not stop. The [Lubavitcher] Rebbe taught me: As a Jew, you are a soldier of God. You need to stand tall and fast, and do whatever it takes to change the world,” said Goldstein. “My life has changed forever, but it changed so I can make change.”
On June 26, the rabbi addressed representatives and guests from around the world who were participating in a special session on anti-Semitism at the United Nations in New York.
He shared how within two hours of the shooting, the congregation regrouped in a community member’s home to finish the Passover prayer service “to show that nothing, nothing will ever stop us,” eliciting rousing applause from the U.N. audience.
“We must never react with defeatism, which simply rewards evil and feeds darkness; our fear of evil only feeds and animates it,” said Goldstein.
He has urged, as a way that the nation can overcome such tragedy, the introduction of a moment of silence in all public schools, “so that children from early childhood on could recognize that there’s more good to the world. That they are valuable. That there is accountability, and every human being is created in God’s image.”
Goldstein remarked it was advice that the Rebbe—Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson—gave to his followers after U.S. President Ronald Reagan was shot in 1981.
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