Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein Retires as Leader of Chabad of Poway, 7 Months after Attack

November 17, 2019
Executive Director Rabbi Ysrael Goldstein, who was shot in the hands, walks towards a press conference with Poway Mayor Steve Vaus outside of the Chabad of Poway Synagogue in Poway, California on April 28, 2019. (SANDY HUFFAKER/AFP/Getty Images)

(JTA) — The rabbi of the Chabad of Poway, who lost his finger in the April 27 attack that killed one, has retired as the congregation’s leader.

Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, 58, who founded the Chabad of Poway in 1996, retired this week, the synagogue announced. His son, Rabbi Mendel Goldstein, will assume the leadership of the synagogue and its religious school, the Los Angeles Times reported.

“We are grateful for Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein’s thirty-plus years of leadership, especially in the aftermath of the terror attack, and he will forever be a part of our community’s story,” the synagogue said in a statement Friday.

“As a community we have suffered a great deal, more than any community should know of,” the statement also said. “We are working hard to heal and get back on our feet, and now, under the leadership of Rabbi Mendel Goldstein, we look forward to continue to grow and create more light and goodness around us.”

Since the attack, the rabbi has given speeches around the world about the attack and its aftermath, while spreading the Lubavitcher Rebbe Menachem Mendel Schneerson’s teachings about light and love. His activities have taken him to the White House and the United Nations, and to other countries such as Brazil and Poland. He reportedly declined the chief rabbi of Israel’s invitation to speak in Jerusalem.

In September he received a life-like prosthetic finger and has undergone physical therapy, while also suffering from phantom pains.

The accused gunman in the Poway shooting, John Earnest, 20, has pleaded not guilty to charges of murder and attempted murder. The murder charge has been classified as a hate crime, making Earnest eligible for the death penalty.

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