Services were interrupted with gunfire today at the Chabad of Poway synagogue outside San Diego, California. Tonight, the last night of Passover was reportedly marked with one death and three injuries, which included Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein.
The Los Angeles Times is reporting that a white male holding a semi-automatic weapon entered the sanctuary. Minoo Anvari, whose husband was attending the service, said that it was a lone gunman attacking the Chabad of Poway congregation.
"One guy was shooting at everybody and cursing," Anvari said.
Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, who was leading the service, was shot in the hand, losing two fingers, but reportedly continued his sermon, telling the congregation to stay strong.
Anvari, who stood outside the synagogue, waiting to see her husband, shared a message from the congregation.
"One message from all of us in our congregation is that we are standing together, we are getting stronger. Never again. You can't break us. We are strong."Cantor Caitlin Bromberg of Ner Tamid Synagogue, located down the street from Chabad of Poway, said that she and her congregation learned of the shooting at the end of their Passover service. She explained at the end of this holy day, they headed down the street to see if they could help.
"We are horrified and upset, and we want them to know we are thinking of them. The message of the final day of Passover is to be looking forward to … the time when all the world will be at peace," Bromberg said.The New York Daily News says that Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein kept his cool to protect those gathered for what is described as a memorial service. The rabbi was taken to the hospital and is said to be in stable condition, though one of his congregants, described as an elderly woman, succumbed to her wounds.
Rabbi Goldstein, who is originally from Crown Heights in Brooklyn, New York, is also a Jewish chaplain with the San Diego sheriff's department. Goldstein has been described as "talkative, warm and kind" by members of the community.
In a recent profile, the rabbi described his life's work as a mission.
"I'm on a mission. This rabbi is not a business, not a career. It's a mission," he said.
Rabbi Goldstein's father, Yossi, helped build the Chabad sect in Crown Heights, and was widely known as "Uncle Yossi" throughout the community, serving as a teacher and administrator at Jewish schools in New York until he moved to Poway, California, with his wife to be near their son.