The Rabbi who narrowly escaped with his life after a racist gunman entered a California synagogue at the weekend has said the incident will only serve to strengthen his faith.
One person was killed and two others injured when a 19-year-old burst into the Chabad of Poway congregation on Saturday and opened fire before being chased away by a U.S. Army vet and a border control agent. He was later arrested while fleeing in his vehicle.
According to ABC News, the FBI was alerted to a social media post which threatened violence against Jews just a few minutes before the attack. Bizarrely, the attackers family is utterly mystified by his actions, noting that he was “taught that love must be the motive for everything we do.”
Rabbi saw “terrorist teenager”
In a powerful piece written for The New York Times, Rabbi Goldstein recalled seeing his friend Lori Kaye lying motionless on the ground — she had been shot dead after flinging herself in front of the spiritual leader. Goldstein explained that he then “saw the terrorist who murdered her.”
“This terrorist was a teenager. He was standing there with a big rifle in his hands. And he was now aiming it at me. For one reason: I am a Jew,” Goldstein added.
Then, the hate-filled attacker began shooting. Goldstein immediately drew his hands up to protect his face. The bullets struck the Rabbi’s hand, blowing his index finger clean off.
Then, as Goldstein waited for his impending death, something utterly miraculous happened — the shooter’s gun jammed.
From this point onward, some staggering heroics took place — including the arrival of a brave army veteran who screamed so loudly at the gunman that he caused him to drop his weapon and flee — likely saving many lives. We have put together a collection of all the hero stories for you to read here.
“I am going to be more brazen”
As for Goldstein, who has vowed to continue ministering to his devastated faith community, he insists that this evil act of anti-Semitic violence will only serve to embolden his Jewish identity and remind him of the ultimate sovereignty and power of God.
“I used to sing a song to my children, a song that my father sang to me when I was a child. ‘Hashem is here,’ I would sing, using a Hebrew name for God, pointing with my right index finger to the sky,” Goldstein explained.
“‘Hashem is there,’ I would sing, pointing to my right and left. ‘Hashem is truly everywhere.’ That finger I would use to point out God’s omnipresence was taken from me,” he wrote. “I pray that my missing finger serves as a constant reminder to me. A reminder that every single human being is created in the image of God.”
Considering the ferociousness of the attack, however, has the Rabbi’s religious expression been tamed or suppressed? Absolutely not. If anything, it has only spurred him on to outwardly demonstrate his devout adherence to the Jewish religion.
“From here on in I am going to be more brazen,” he said. “I am going to be even more proud about walking down the street wearing my tzitzit and kippah, acknowledging God’s presence. And I’m going to use my voice until I am hoarse to urge my fellow Jews to do Jewish.”
In his manifesto penned prior to the deadly attack, the teenage terrorist called the Jewish people, a “squalid and parasitic race,” something that Goldstein proudly rebuts.
“No,” Goldstein replied to the sickening assertion. “We are a people divinely commanded to bring God’s light into the world.”
Do continue in prayer for all those affected by this horrific act of violence.