Chabad of Poway Rabbi Describes Phone Call With President Donald Trump After Synagogue Shooting, 'He Was So Comforting'

Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein
Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, of the Chabad of Poway Synagogue, speaks to MSNBC's Kasie Hunt about a phone call he received from President Donald Trump following a shooting at the house of worship on Saturday. MSNBC

A day after one person was killed and three others injured at the Chabad of Poway synagogue in Poway, California, the congregation's Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, told reporters of a phone call he had with President Donald Trump.

Goldstein spoke of the phone call during a press conference on Sunday afternoon and again during an interview on MSNBC.

Speaking at the press conference, Goldstein said he was "amazed" when he answered the phone to discover the White House on the other end of the line, adding that Trump spent 10 or 15 minutes on the phone with him.

"He shared with me condolences on behalf of the United States of America. We spoke about the moment of silence. And he spoke about his love of peace and Judaism and Israel. He was just so comforting, I'm really grateful to our president for taking the time and share with us his comfort and consolation," Goldstein told reporters.

Speaking to MSNBC, Goldstein shared more of the conversation between himself and the president, including how he questioned Trump about plans to combat a rise in anti-Semitism in the United States. The Chabad synagogue shooting is the second attack on Jewish houses of worship in the past year. The Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennslyvania was attacked in October 2018, with 11 people killed and seven others injured.

"[Trump] was very generous in explaining that he has made it as a priority," Goldstein told MSNBC's Kasie Hunt. "He said, 'Listen, I've got a son-in-law who's Jewish, I've got a daughter who's Jewish, I've got grandkids that are Jewish. And I love Israel, and I support Israel and I'm going to do whatever we can to protect the Jewish people of the United States of America and abroad.' ...It was the highlight of the day after everything I've been through to hear from the president himself to be so comforting and consoling. It meant a lot to our community and it meant a lot to me."

Trump's eldest daughter, Ivanka Trump, her husband Jared Kushner and their three children are of the Jewish faith.

"He was so gracious and generous with this words, exceedingly comforting to me, to my community," Goldstein said. "He spoke to me like a friend, like a buddy. And I didn't realize I'm talking to the President of the United State of America. He was just exceedingly kind and sensitive. ....I thought to myself for the President of the United States to take time out of his day, 15 minutes to talk to me about the issues at hand. It was just incredible and admirable."

Goldstein added that he spoke to Trump about reinstituting a moment of silence in public schools across the nation, saying the president appeared "very taken by the concept."

"Something has to change; we have to do something about this. We've got to start it from early childhood education, that's where it all starts," Goldstein said. "And if the families at home and in the schools teach the children to respect God and respect each other as human beings and to be accountable for your actions, your thoughts and your speech, perhaps children will grow up with clearer moral and ethics."

Some have condemned Trump following the shootings, pointing to the president's comments about white supremacists after it was revealed that the alleged Chabad shooter and the alleged Tree of Life shooter, both white men, were spurned by anti-Semitism and expressed white-supremacist views prior to the attacks.

According to a study by the Anti-Defamation league, anti-Semitic incidents increased by 57 percent across the country in 2017.