Chabad of Poway Rabbi reflects on fourth anniversary of synagogue shooting
Anyone would’ve known something was wrong at Chabad of Poway that Saturday four years ago, when officers and law enforcement vehicles surrounded the property.
But the sight only hinted at the horror unfolding inside as a man, who had expressed his hatred for Jews online, burst in and opened fire. Longtime congregant Lori Kaye was killed and three others were injured.
“It was the middle of the Torah reading when it all happened," said Chabad of Poway Rabbi Mendel Goldstein.
Goldstein was in the synagogue as the nightmare unfolded.
“His goal was to take down every single Jew, and we are fortunate here today, as proud as ever before, to be alive and to survive such an event," Goldstein said.
The only thing left from that awful incident is in the lobby — a tangible reminder: a partition or a "mechitza" in Hebrew, where some of the shooter's bullets went right into the wood.
“Antisemitism is not something new. It has always been here," Goldstein said.
Antisemitism is once again on the rise in the U.S. Data from the Anti-Defamation League showed a 36% increase in 2022 compared to the previous year.
When Goldstein thought about current antiemetic issues and what happened that day, he turned to his faith: to the ancient call of doing good every day — of being part of the light that overcomes the darkness.
“And that’s how we can outsmart antisemitism, realizing that we have so much to accomplish, so much more to bring to the world and despite the darkness we may see and experience, one candle can push away all that darkness," he said.
Rabbi Goldstein said he and his congregation still mourn the loss of Lori Kaye after that terrible day. But, four years later, they were more determined than ever to move forward in faith.