When a hate-filled gunman opened fire inside his San Diego synagogue, Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein kept his cool.
The brave cleric continued preaching the message of the Passover freedom holiday, even after being shot in the hand.
“He continued his speech,” Minoo Anvari, a congregant whose husband was inside the synagogue, told CNN. “We are strong. We are united. They can’t break us.”
The founding rabbi of the Chabad of Poway synagogue — who has deep roots in Brooklyn — was taken to a local hospital in stable condition. One congregant died of her wounds.
Goldstein has served as a Jewish chaplain for the San Diego sheriff’s department.
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A 2006 profile on the CrownHeights.info web site describes Goldstein as warm and talkative, with a philosophy of active community involvement.
“I’m on a mission,” Goldstein told the web site. “This rabbi is not a business, not a career. It’s a mission."
His father, Yossi, who died in 2013, helped build the Chabad sect in Crown Heights and was a key lieutenant of much-revered Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson.
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“Uncle Yossi” was an educator and administrator for decades at several Jewish schools in New York. He and his wife moved to Poway after retiring to be near their rabbi son.
More police than usual flooded the bustling streets of Crown Heights on Saturday night — especially near the Chabad group’s headquarters on Eastern Parkway.
Members of Crown Heights’ Chabad Hasidid community expressed shock and dismay at the San Diego shooting. Many of them only learned about the tragedy after the Sabbath ended at sundown.
Sam Goldstein, 36 — who is no relation to Rabbi Goldstein — said he visited the San Diego-area synagogue as a child.
“He’s a real man,” he said of Rabbi Goldstein. “He’s always been a special person.”
“It’s definitely a hate crime,” said Moishe Tzvi Faistma.
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“The question is, what is being hated?” asked Faistma. “Is it hatred of the individual person or what the person stands for?”
Faistma said Rabbi Goldstein “is a representative of certain values, wholesome values, doing good things for fellow citizens. There are people who have an issue with those values.”