July 14, 2020

Needless to say, today’s news is terribly shocking and troubling. Honesty and integrity—to G‑d and to our fellow—are the bedrock of a healthy, moral society. Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein’s actions broke the law, breached the trust vested by the United States in its stewards of charitable organizations, and violated everything that Judaism and our movement stand for.

While it is painful to learn about anyone engaging in unlawful activity, that pain is compounded when the person’s life was supposed to be dedicated to sharing the eternal moral code of the Torah and to teaching about our personal responsibility to the Divine “Eye that Sees and Ear that Hears.” That this person is someone who came to widely symbolize faith in G‑d and fortitude in the face of evil is particularly devastating.

Upon receiving information late last year about his unlawful activity, Chabad of Poway’s board relieved Rabbi Goldstein of all of his congregational roles and Chabad-Lubavitch Headquarters dismissed him from his position as a representative of the movement.

Our hearts go out to Rabbi Goldstein’s former congregants, to his family and to the broader Poway community, all of whom have already experienced more devastation than anyone should ever know. We pray that their faith and resilience strengthens them in this difficult time as well.

The Torah teaches of the necessity for a person to acknowledge and take responsibility for his or her misdeeds, and to make amends to those they have hurt. Along with receiving the necessary professional help, we sincerely hope that Rabbi Goldstein utilizes his time ahead to do precisely this.

To the many who were inspired after the Poway attack by the Torah inspiration Rabbi Goldstein shared and are rightfully dismayed by this news, please know that you are not alone. While the messenger was clearly more flawed than any of us knew, the teachings remain timeless and enduring. Now more than ever we must learn them and live by them.

We commend the law enforcement efforts of the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the sensitivity with which they handled this difficult case. We pray for the strength and healing of the Poway Jewish community and the Goldstein family. We stand with you and support you as you once again rebuild the community you hold so dear.

As you move forward under new leadership, may your light and inspiration be renewed and shine ever brighter, for the city of Poway, for our nation, and for the world at large.