We are all horrified by the attack which took place yesterday at Chabad of Poway in California.
We express our heartfelt sympathy to the family of Lori Gilbert-Kaye whose life was cut short by a barbaric shooter.
Our prayers are with the other victims who have been violently injured in this cowardly attack.
As the details of the attack emerge, acts of heroism and divine intervention clearly played a major role in mitigating the carnage.
Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein of Chabad of Poway finished washing his hands prior to the Yizkor service. As he exited the bathroom, he saw a man with a gun in the lobby of the synagogue. Moments later Lori Gilbert-Kay fell to the ground after being shot. The gunman then aimed his gun at Rabbi Goldstein. Shielding himself with his two hands, a finger on each one of his hands was hit.
Six more shots then rang out, injuring 8-year-old Noya Dahan and her uncle, 34-year-old Almog Peretz of Sderot, Israel, who suffered a gunshot wound to the leg as he led his niece and a group of children to safety.
Miraculously the shooter’s gun then suddenly jammed. A Chabad regular and U.S. military veteran heroically rushed him. As the shooter fled, an off-duty Border Patrol officer shot and struck the shooter’s vehicle four times. The shooter was later apprehended by law enforcement.
While the gunman was still at large, Rabbi Goldstein wrapped his bloody hands in a Tallis and ushered the children in the lobby to safety. He then escorted the congregants in the sanctuary outside of the building. Rabbi Goldstein got on a chair outside of the synagogue and addressed the crowd saying that “no evil will get us down and Am Yisroel Chai!”
We are still all processing this act of terror upon a congregation gathered to pray and celebrate Passover here in the United States.
We salute the heroic efforts of Rabbi Goldstein, his congregants and law enforcement.
We will be reviewing our own security protocols and take measures to enhance our synagogue's security. I welcome your suggestions and please don’t hesitate to contact me to discuss this matter.
There has been an alarming rise in anti-Semitism in America and around the world. We call upon leaders across all political factions to take this matter seriously and do whatever we can to stamp out hate.
To all anti-Semites out there, we won't be intimidated by evil darkness. We won’t allow terror to alter our way of living and freedom to practice our faith.
We respond to darkness and evil by shining a greater light. While there were great empires that tried to stamp out the spark of G-dliness and goodness throughout history, these empires are nonexistent today and we continue to shine the light of justice, G-dliness, spirituality and kindness for all. AM YISROEL CHAI!
Let us respond to this act of wanton hate with acts of wanton love! Do a random act of kindness to a friend or better yet to someone who you don't even really know.
I would like to invite the entire community to a prayer service in solidarity with Chabad of Poway which will take place on Saturday, May 11th, 11:30am.
With prayers for peace, safety and love. May we soon see the time prophesied by Isaiah, when nations “shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore," please G-d, speedily in our time!
Rabbi Berel Lerman