Vice President Mike Pence visited the Chabad of Poway and its rabbi Thursday during an unannounced stop on his tour of San Diego – marking 75 days since a gunman opened fire inside the synagogue, killing one and injuring three others.
At 5:15 p.m., Pence and Second Lady Karen Pence walked into the synagogue on Chabad Way and were greeted by Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein.
Goldstein’s finger was blown off in the April shooting, and the rabbi could still be seen wearing blue bandages around his hands Thursday.
“We had to come,” Pence said to Goldstein as he walked in. The rabbi could be seen giving the vice president a hug.
Karen & I were honored to stop by the Chabad of Poway, the site of a terrible shooting in April. To Rabbi Goldstein—your faith & courage is an inspiration to the nation. No one should fear in a house of worship. We will always condemn evil acts of antisemitism. We are with you! pic.twitter.com/mwRYVUwVHB— Vice President Mike Pence (@VP) July 12, 2019
Goldstein described the shooting to Pence, pointing to where the gunman opened fire, where Lori Gilbert-Kaye was killed, and where worshippers had to flee.
"I was looking down the barrel of a rifle, right here in my home," Goldstein said. "I heard children playing behind me."
Among the child playing was Goldstein’s 4-year-old granddaughter, which the rabbi said was the most “chilling” part of the attack.
Oscar Stewart later joined the rabbi and the Pences. Stewart, 51, reportedly chased the gunman out of the synagogue’s lobby.
“He fired on you?” Pence asked Stewart.
"I remember the muzzle flashes," Stewart said.
The rabbi blessed the vice president and the second lady with a traditional Jewish blessing and gave them each a dollar to put into a charity box, which was another tradition at the synagogue.
Pence told Goldstein that his “faith and courage had inspired the nation.”
"You built a bridge from the White House to our house," Goldstein said. "This is why the Jewish people feel so at home in America.”
Goldstein met President Donald Trump at the National Day of Prayer service in May. Trump also called the rabbi shortly after the shooting to send his condolences.