The rabbi wounded in last month’s deadly shooting attack at a synagogue near San Diego gave an inspiring speech to 800 young Jewish youths on Sunday at the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp.
Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein of Chabad of Poway, who suffered injuries to both his hands and the loss of a finger in the April 27th attack, spoke to a group of Jewish people from former Soviet Union countries on their annual “Eurostars” trip to sites of Jewish interest and history across Europe, according to the website Chabad.org.
“Where we are standing is the darkest place in the world, but today, it is the brightest, because 800 future leaders are standing here,” Goldstein said in remarks which were translated into Russian for the crowd.
“I told the students that I am figuratively giving them my finger that was taken away from me by the terrorist, to point to another Jew in their own respective cities, and bring them closer to God,” Goldstein said.
As a reply, “the 800 students shouted ‘Am Yisrael chai!’ The same words I said 14 days earlier in the aftermath of the attack,” Goldstein noted.
The rabbi said after his finger was shot off, he got up on a chair and told his congregation, “Am Yisrael chai! Nothing will take us down! This is what the Rebbe [Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson] taught us, this is what we live with. We are going to stand tall, we are going to stand proud of who we are, of our heritage … and we’re going to get through this.”
Goldstein also recounted standing face-to-face with the shooter, John Earnest, and talked about his decision to stay standing, rather than take cover, and risk his life to try to save others from the gunman’s bullets.
“I knew that the job of a Jew is to save others, no matter what,” he told the Jewish youths.