Rabbi Of Poway Synagogue Steps Down As His Son Takes Over Congregation

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November 14, 2019 3:30 pm

SAN DIEGO (VINnews) — The son of Rabbi Yisrael Goldstein, the rabbi who was injured when a gunman opened fire inside a Poway synagogue on the last day of Passover this year, will take over from his father, a spokesperson for the Chabad of Poway said Wednesday.

Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, the founder of the Poway synagogue, is stepping down as  spiritual leader of Chabad of Poway, and his son, Rabbi Mendel Goldstein, is taking over his position.

“It’s the personal life of Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, and we’d stay away from that because we want to respect him, as we know the issue that took place here on April 27, so Rabbi Mendel Goldstein will be our spiritual leader now,” said Steve Arnold, the director of logistics at the Chabad of Poway.

On April 27, a gunman fired shots inside the Chabad of Poway, killing worshipper Lori Gilbert-Kaye and injuring Rabbi Goldstein in the hand.

“I should’ve been dead by now, based on the rule of statistics. I was in the line of fire, bullets flying all the way. My fingers got blown off, but I did not stop,” Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein said at the White House in May. “The Rebbe taught me: as a Jew, you are a soldier of God. You need to stand tall and stand fast and do whatever it takes to change the world.”

Worshippers Almog Peretz and Noya Dahan, an 8-year-old girl, were also injured in the attack.“We have a lot of people, including Rabbi (Yisroel) Goldstein, that is recovering from this incident, but what’s most important now is what Chabad is doing to help our community,” Arnold told NBC 7. “The community has really come forward since the incident to show so much more love. And I think it touched everybody, the incident.”

Rabbi Mendel Goldstein has taken over the duties of leading the Poway synagogue ahead of Shabbat San Diego – a weekend to celebrate unity and togetherness.

“We’re not focusing on ‘woe to we,’ it’s more of “let’s bring the community back and continue the growth,” Arnold said.

Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein founded the synagogue in the 1980s, and it has since become an integral feature of the Poway community, according to the Chabad of Poway’s website.

In 2015, Rabbi Mendel Goldstein moved to Poway from Brooklyn, New York, to “start fresh again with new and young energy,” the synagogue’s website said. Rabbi Mendel Goldstein has helped his father over the past few years.

Shabbat San Diego, part of the general World Shabbat, an annual mutual celebration of Shabbat by Jews worldwide,  will be a celebration of life and connection over four days, beginning on Nov. 14, according to Shabbat San Diego program coordinator Simone Abelsohn.

On Thursday, communities up and down the county’s coast, as well as around the world, will bake Challah together – a special bread used in Jewish ceremonies.

“We have Challah bakes starting up in Vista, Oceanside and all the way down to Tijuana,” Abelsohn said. “Just Jewish people coming together, rising together in celebration and in life.”

On Friday, Shabbat meals will be hosted to celebrate family, friends, and Jewish unity, Abelsohn told NBC 7.

“No matter how you practice your Judaism, Shabbat is something everyone does. Everyone gets together with their families,” Abelsohn said.

On Saturday, services will be held in the morning and afternoon, and at night, the community will gather for the Unity Havdalah Concert at the Observatory in North Park.

Starting at 7 p.m., The One and Only and Ezzy Gluck and Band will perform with a message of unity.

“Unity. Unity in San Diego. Unity in America. Unity across the whole world,” Abelsohn said.

On Sunday, Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center in La Jolla will host a Jewish Day of Learning to round out the weekend.

2 million people around the globe are expected to participate in activities over the weekend in more than 1,500 cities in 97 countries.

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