Rachel Stoltzfoos | Staff Reporter
The rabbi who interfered in the shooting at Chabad synagogue in Poway, California, last week applauded President Trump Thursday during a White House event marking the National Day of Prayer.
Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, whose finger was blown off as he attempted to stop the man who opened fire at the synagogue last Saturday, said the president was the first person to help him begin healing after the horrific event.
“You heal people in their worst of times, and I’m so grateful for that,” Goldstein said after Trump invited him to say a few words at the podium.
“I faced evil and the worst darkness of all time right in our own house of worship — right at Chabad Poway,” he said. “I faced him, and I had to make a decision. Do I run and hide? Or do I stand tall and fight and protect all those that are there? We cannot control what others do, but we can control how we react.”
“It was that moment that I made a decision, no matter what happens to me, I am going to save as many people as possible,” he added. “I should have 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.”
Goldstein said he hopes the shooting will result in public school’s bringing back a moment of silence “so that children from early childhood on could recognize that there is more good to the world, that they are valuable, that there is accountability and every human being is created in God’s image.”
He then concluded by thanking Trump: “I also want to thank the United States of America. I like to thank our dear honorable Mr. President for being as they say in Yiddish, a mensch [man] par excellence. Mr. President, when you called me I was at home weeping. You were the first person who began my healing. You heal people in their worst of times and I’m so grateful for that.”
Cohen was joined at the event by Army veteran Oscar Stewart and Border Patrol agent Jonathan Morales, who also interfered with the shooter. Stewart ran to the sound of gunshots and chased the shooter out to his car, at which point Morales came running out to the parking lot with a gun and opened fire on the vehicle, attempting to stop the shooter’s escape.
Stewart and Morales also said a few words, echoing the rabbi’s positive remarks.(RELATED: Rabbi In Synagogue Shooting Asked Border Patrol Agent To Be Armed During Services)
“We need to be strong as a group of people that love God, whether you call him Mohammed, whether you call him Shiva — we need to be strong to defeat evil,” Stewart said. “Do not be afraid to be who you are. Be proud and lift yourself up.”
Morales added, “We were attacked with our backs turned, but brave people stood up and confronted this person, and we ended the situation the best we could with the resources we had. And like I said, I would like to use a quote … ‘In order to fight these random acts of violence, we must continue to do random acts of kindness.’ And to all of us, keep doing good deeds and we will overcome this evilness.”