Trump, rabbi of attacked synagogue observe National Day of Prayer at White House

Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein WASHINGTON — Among the guests at a White House ceremony marking the National Day of Prayer was Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, leader of the California synagogue recently attacked by a gunman. Goldstein marveled that he survived the attack.


“We cannot control what others do but we can control how we react,” said Goldstein, who sought to protect his congregation instead of running. “I should have been dead by now, based on the rule of statistics.”

Goldstein, standing with his hands wrapped in blue bandages after a finger was blown off in the attack, tried to pivot beyond the tragedy to next steps. Some applauded as he suggested bringing a time of reverence to schoolchildren so they will know “every human being is created in God’s image” and they are valued.

“Many have asked me, ‘Rabbi, where do we go from here?’” he said. “If something good can come out of this terrible, terrible horrific event, let us bring back a moment of silence to our public school system.”

The rabbi was among a group of leaders from different faiths who joined President Trump at the event.

“As we unite on this day of prayer, we renew our resolve to protect communities of faith and to ensure that all people and all of our people can live and pray and worship in peace,” said Trump, drawing applause from Christians, Jews, Muslims and others at the midday interfaith gathering on Thursday (May 2).

“In recent months, it’s been pretty tough. We’ve seen evil and hate-filled attacks on religious communities in the United States and all around the world.”

Using a Yiddish term, Goldstein said he considered Trump “a mensch par excellence,” drawing applause for describing the chief executive as a person of honor.

“Mr. President, when you called me, I was at home weeping,” the Orthodox rabbi in a big black hat told Trump. “You were the first person to begin my healing.”

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Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein
Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein speaks in front of President Trump during a National Day of Prayer event in the White House Rose Garden on May 2, 2019, in Washington. Goldstein, who leads the Chabad of Poway in San Diego, was injured when the synagogue was attacked by a gunman on April 27, 2019. RNS photo by Adelle M. Banks

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