The rabbi who survived a shooting at a California synagogue has painted a chilling picture of the rising tide of antisemitism in America.
Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein lost a finger during the shooting at the Chabad of Poway near San Diego on Saturday.
On Monday he was back at the synagogue to lead the funeral for Lori Kaye, who died after putting herself between the gunman and rabbi.
Rabbi Goldstein told Sky News that the 60-year-old, whose doctor husband was with her on Saturday, led a life that was “selfless, kindness, laughter, sweetness and always being there for others”.
He added: “She died in a house of worship, she is a martyr, the only reason she died was that she was Jewish and this baseless hatred that killed her, cut her life short, it has to stop.”
The rabbi spoke to US president Donald Trump after the attack and said he believed his reassurance that tackling antisemitism was a “priority”.
There has been a dramatic increase in antisemitic attack in the US over the last few years. Saturday’s shooting, on the last day of the Passover festival, came exactly six months after eleven people died in a shooting at a synagogue in Pittsburgh.
Rabbi Goldstein said: “We have to acknowledge that antisemitism is overtly out there. It’s not a myth, it’s not something of the past. The Holocaust 75 years ago did not stop, it’s continuing, and it’s getting worse.
“It’s just not right. Haven’t we learnt from history?”
He said the sights he saw in his temple on Saturday morning were reminiscent of the pogroms against Jews in Nazi Germany in the 1930s.
“That is not supposed to happen in 2019.”
Three other people were injured in the shooting including an eight year old girl.
John Earnest, a 19-year-old who lives locally, was arrested on suspicion of murder and attempted murder. Police say he had written a manifesto expressing hatred for Jews.
The rabbi said he had no words for the alleged gunman, adding “God did not create humanity to be like that. He created himself to be like that, he made those choices and he’s going to be accountable for that.”
Two members of the congregation chased the gunman from the synagogue after his weapon apparently jammed.
Rabbi Goldstein says he knows he is lucky to be alive.
“My whole life has changed. I’m a new person. I don’t know what the future holds for me but I’m so grateful I’m alive. Lori is not but I’m going to keep her name and legacy alive.”
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