San Diego

Rabbi in Synagogue Shooting Steps Down as Son Takes Lead

On April 27, a gunman fired shots inside the Chabad of Poway, killing worshipper Lori Gilbert-Kaye and injuring three others

The son of the rabbi who led an entire community after a gunman opened fire inside a Poway synagogue on the last day of Passover will take over for his father, a worshipper at the Chabad of Poway said Wednesday.

Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, who lost his finger in the shooting in April, is stepping away as a spritiual leader of the Chabad of Poway, and his son, Rabbi Mendel Goldstein, would take over, starting with a Jewish observance this weekend.

“It’s (the) personal life of Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, and we’d stay away from that because we want to respect him, as we know the issue that took place here on April 27, so Rabbi Mendel Goldstein has been our spiritual leader now,” said worshipper Steve Arnold.

Arnold did not say whether or not Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein was stepping down due to the synagogue shooting. 

On April 27, a gunman fired shots inside the Chabad of Poway, killing worshipper Lori Gilbert-Kaye Rabbi and injuring Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein.

“I should've been dead by now, based on the rule of statistics. I was in the line of fire, bullets flying all the way. My fingers got blown off, but I did not stop,” Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein said at the White House in May. “The rabbi taught me, as a Jew, you are a solider of God. You need to stand tall and stand fast and do whatever it takes to change the world.”

Worshipper Almog Peretz and then-8-year-old Noya Dahan were also injured.
Rabbi Goldstein speaks out after losing his finger in synagogue attack. NBC 7's Ramon Galindo has more.

“We have a lot of people, including Rabbi (Yisroel) Goldstein, that is recovering from this incident, but what’s most important now is what Chabad is doing to help our community,” Arnold told NBC 7. “The community has really come forward since the incident to show so much more love. And I think it touched everybody, the incident.”

Rabbi Mendel Goldstein has taken over the duties of leading the Poway synagogue ahead of Shabbat San Diego – a weekend to celebrate unity and togetherness.

“We’re not focusing on ‘woe as we,’ it’s more of, let’s bring the community back and continue the growth,” Arnold said.

The Poway synagogue shooting survivors were at the White House today for National Day of Prayer. NBC 7's Alex Presha has more.

Arnold added that, “We’re still the same Chabad. Come on back, enjoy.”

Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein founded the synagogue in the 1980s, and it has since become a staple for the Poway community, according to the Chabad of Poway’s website.

In 2015, Rabbi Mendel Goldstein moved to Poway from Brooklyn, New York, to “start fresh again with new and young energy,” the synagogue’s website said. Rabbi Mendel Goldstein would continue to help his father over the next several years.

Shabbat San Diego is a celebration of life and connection over four days, beginning on Nov. 14, according to Shabbat San Diego program coordinator Simone Abelsohn.

On Thursday, communities up and down the county’s coast, as well as around the world, will bake Challah together – a special bread used in Jewish ceremonies.

“We have Challah bakes starting up in Vista, Oceanside and all the way down to Tijuana,” Abelsohn said. “Just Jewish peoplehood coming together, rising together in celebration and in life.”

On Friday, Shabbat meals will be hosted to celebrate family, friends, and peoplehood, Abelsohn told NBC 7.

“No matter how you practice your Judaism, Shabbat is something everyone does. Everyone gets together with their families,” Abelsohn said.

[SD] Aftermath of the Poway Synagogue Shooting

On Saturday, services will be held in the morning and afternoon, and at night, the community will gather for the Unity Havdalah Concert at the Observatory in North Park.

Starting at 7 p.m., The One and Only and Ezzy Gluck and Band will perform with a message of unity.

“Unity. Unity in San Diego. Unity in America. Unity across the whole world,” Abelsohn said.

On Sunday, Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center in La Jolla will host a Jewish Day of Learning to round out the weekend.

Shabbat San Diego said 2 million people will participate around the globe over the weekend in more than 1,500 cities in 97 countries.

To learn more about the weekend celebration and how to register for events, including baking Challah, attending a Shabbat meal or the Havdalah concert, visit Shabbat San Diego’s website.

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