By COLlive reporter
Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, injured in a shooting attack at Chabad of Poway in California which he founded, is stepping down and will assume the title “rabbi emeritus.”
“It was a really rough year and then he immediately made himself a spokesperson,” said Elisheva Green, a community member who is active with the local Friendship Circle for people with special needs. “He needs some downtime now. He’s really exhausted.”
Rabbi Goldstein was thrown into the spotlight after an anti-Semitic gunman entered Chabad on April 27 – the last day of Pesach. 60-year-old Lori Kaye was killed and three others were injured, including Rabbi Goldstein who lost a finger.
In a show of strength, Rabbi Goldstein remained present during the attack and delivered positive messages to heartbroken community members, to the international media, at the White House alongside President Donald Trump and at the United Nations.
Priya Sridhar, a reporter for PBS and NPR stations in San Diego, reported that Rabbi Goldstein’s decision to step down “from his day-to-day duties” is “related to PTSD he has from the incident.”
One of his five sons, Rabbi Mendel Goldstein, has assumed leadership of Chabad of Poway, founded in 1986, including its synagogue and school, the Los Angeles Times reported. Another son, Rabbi Shuie Goldstein, and his wife, Devorah Goldstein, took charge of the Friendship Circle.
“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,” Chabad of Poway said in a statement Friday. “We are thrilled to have Rabbi Mendel Goldstein take the reins of our center, and have great confidence in his skills and ability to lead. He has served the community since 2015, and comes to the position with years of experience and a contagious enthusiasm.”
The Los Angeles Times said that Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein experienced phantom pains from where his right index finger had been shot off. His left index finger, shattered by a bullet fragment, required surgeries and physical therapy.
“Demands on his time became so overwhelming that he stopped giving interviews and even declined the chief rabbi of Israel’s invitation to speak in Jerusalem,” the newspaper reported.
“As a community, we have suffered a great deal, more than any community should know of,” a statement from Chabad of Poway 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.”