Poway rabbi calls Trump ‘mensch par excellence’ at National Day of Prayer service


(JTA) — The rabbi of the Chabad of Poway synagogue injured in the deadly shooting there called President Donald Trump a “mensch par excellence” at the National Day of Prayer Service on Thursday at the White House.

Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein in impromptu remarks told the president that his call and concern helped the rabbi begin the healing process following the April 27 attack, which killed one and injured three.

Oscar Stewart, the combat veteran who confronted the shooter in Saturday’s synagogue attack and forced him to flee, and Jonathan Morales, the off-duty Border Patrol agent who engaged the gunman as he fled the synagogue, accompanied Goldstein to the service.

Goldstein recalled coming face to face with the gunman, saying “I faced evil and the worst darkness of all time.” He said he decided that he would save as many people in the synagogue as possible, adding “We cannot control what others do, but we can control how we act.”

The rabbi said he had survived the attack to help others and would teach others “how to be strong, how to be mighty and how to be tall.” He quoted the last Lubavitcher rebbe, the late Menachem Mendel Schneerson, who said that “As a Jew you are a soldier of God.”

He also said public schools should bring back a moment of silence.

Prior to his White House visit, Goldstein recited the Birkat Gomel, a blessing said after being in a life-threatening situation, for the first time at TheShul, a Lubavitch synagogue in Washington, D.C.

The National Day of Prayer, observed annually on the first Thursday in May, invites Americans of all faiths to pray for the nation. During the event, Trump noted that he had just announced rules on promoting free speech and religious liberty.

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