Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, whose southern California synagogue was targeted by a shooter on Saturday, has reportedly accepted an invitation from the White House to participate in this week’s National Day of Prayer in Washington, D.C.
Goldstein, head of the Chabad of Poway Synagogue in California, confirmed to San Diego CBS affiliate KFMB-TV his plans to take part in the annual event on Thursday, which is commemorated at locations throughout the United States, including the White House.
The rabbi lost his right index finger in Saturday’s attack and was also shot in the left hand.
The 19-year-old suspected gunman killed one member of the congregation, Lori Gilbert-Kaye, 60, and injured two others, including an 8-year-old girl.
Goldstein told MSNBC that Trump called on Sunday to offer his condolences.
The two talked for close to 15 minutes, according to the rabbi.
“I have never spoken to a president before, Goldstein said. “He was so gracious and generous with his words, exceedingly comforting to me, to my community. And he spoke to me like a friend, like a buddy. I didn’t realize I was talking to the president of the United States of America. He was exceedingly kind and sensitive.”
WATCH: Rabbi Goldstein praises President Trump’s outreach after the synagogue shooting in Poway:
“I’ve never spoken to a president before. He was so gracious and generous with his words.” pic.twitter.com/GhHjdWQRog
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) April 29, 2019
The men also discussed the idea of bringing back a moment of silence each morning in the public schools, as a chance to give kids a moment to reflect and potentially connect with God.
In an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, Goldstein added regarding the recent shootings, “This must stop, and I’m hoping that the tragedy that happened at our congregation would be the impetus to rethink what is the problem, why have we gone wrong.
“America was built on religious values. In God we trust. Our Founding Fathers of America wanted our children to grow up with God in their lives, with a spiritual life to them. Why did they take prayer out of the public schools?”
The religious leader told reporters at a news conference on Sunday that Trump also mentioned “his love of peace and Judaism and Israel.”
The president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is Jewish-American, and he and his wife Ivanka Trump, who converted to Judaism, are raising their children in the Jewish faith.
Trump tweeted on Monday, “I spoke at length yesterday to Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, Chabad of Poway, where I extended my warmest condolences to him and all affected by the shooting in California. What a great guy. He had a least one finger blown off, and all he wanted to do is help others. Very special!”
I spoke at length yesterday to Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, Chabad of Poway, where I extended my warmest condolences to him and all affected by the shooting in California. What a great guy. He had a least one finger blown off, and all he wanted to do is help others. Very special!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 29, 2019
In an Op-Ed for The New York Times, Goldstein wrote that he does not know why his life was spared, but it is his responsibility to make the most of the time God gives him on earth.
“We are a people divinely commanded to bring God’s light into the world,” he wrote, concerning himself and his fellow Jewish people.
“So it is with this country,” Goldstein continued. “America is unique in world history. Never before was a country founded on the ideals that all people are created in God’s image and that all people deserve freedom and liberty. We fought a war to make that promise real.
“And I believe we can make it real again. That is what I pledge to do with my borrowed time.”
Trump has been called the most pro-Israel president ever.
The Times of Israel ran a piece in March, titled “Trump: The first Jewish President of the United States.”
Among the pro-Israel actions by Trump listed in the article are: moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, being the first U.S. president to visit the Western Wall, decertifying the Iran nuclear deal, helping defeat the ISIS caliphate in Iraq and Syria, rebuking the United Nations over its anti-Israel resolutions, and closing the Palestinian Liberation Organization office in Washington, D.C.
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