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Rabbi of San Diego synagogue pens op-ed after shooting: ‘I will never back down’

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The rabbi of a San Diego-area synagogue that was the site of a shooting vowed to “never back down” in the face of hate and to use his “borrowed time” to promote freedom and liberty. 

“I do not know why God spared my life,” Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, who was injured after a gunman opened fire at the Chabad of Poway on Saturday, wrote in an op-ed for The New York Times published Monday.

“I do not know why I had to witness scenes of a pogrom in San Diego County like the ones my grandparents experienced in Poland,” he continued. “I do not know God’s plan. All I can do is try to find meaning in what has happened. And to use this borrowed time to make my life matter more.”

{mosads}Goldstein uses much of the essay to recount the moments leading up to and after the massacre, which occurred as congregants gathered to observe the final day of Passover. 

Goldstein wrote that he first came face to face with the alleged shooter after hearing a loud bang in the synagogue’s lobby.

“This terrorist was a teenager,” Goldstein wrote. “He was standing there with a big rifle in his hands. And he was now aiming it at me. For one reason: I am a Jew.”

Goldstein wrote that his right-index finger was “blown off” after the suspect began shooting, and that his left-index finger was hit as well. He added that the training the synagogue received following the October mass shooting at a Pittsburgh synagogue prompted him to help children present at the synagogue get to safety.

The rabbi recalled how the gunman ran out of the vicinity after his gun jammed, referring to it as an “amazing miracle.”

“I pray that my missing finger serves as a constant reminder to me,” Goldstein wrote. “A reminder that every single human being is created in the image of God; a reminder that I am part of a people that has survived the worst destruction and will always endure; a reminder that my ancestors gave their lives so that I can live in freedom in America; and a reminder, most of all, to never, ever, not ever be afraid to be Jewish.”

The San Diego County Sheriff’s office identified the alleged shooter Saturday night. The office said that the 19-year-old suspect shot four people  at the Chabad of Poway synagogue before fleeing the scene and being apprehended by police a short distance down the road.

Lori Gilbert-Kaye, 60, was killed as a result of the shooting. Authorities said that she was killed while stepping in front of Goldstein as he tried to evacuate children, USA Today reported

 
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