Texas rabbi returns to lead prayer service
Texas hero Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker fought back tears to lead a prayer service Monday night, just two days after he saved worshipers from a hostage situation at his synagogue by throwing a chair at a terrorist armed.
The emotional rabbi took several deep breaths before admitting he feared he and his congregants could be killed during Saturday’s 10 a.m. ordeal at his Beth Israel congregation in Colleyville.
“I’ve run or helped run too many of these services. I cried at too many wakes,” he finally told the live-streamed event held at a large nearby Methodist church.
“And I’m so grateful, so incredibly grateful, that we tonight – unlike every other service like this that I’ve done – tonight we won’t be saying our traditional bereavement prayer,” he said. he declares.
“No one is going to say Kaddish Yatom for me or any of us,” he added after taking another deep breath and clutching his chest.
“Thank God – thank God. It could have been so much worse, and I am overflowing, really overflowing, with gratitude,” he said.
During his moving speech, Cytron-Walker chuckled when he noted that Colleyville was somewhere “nobody’s ever heard of before.”
But he said those watching online and showing their “desire to offer support after a Jewish congregation suffered trauma” meant “the world.”
“This coming together of diverse people for the purpose of healing…it’s a life-saving and world-saving endeavor,” he said.
“When terrible things happen to me and you feel it, that’s empathy. That’s compassion. And that’s what allows us to see each other despite all our differences,” he said. he declares.
He noted he was speaking on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, saying it was “at the root of Dr. King Jr.’s beautiful teaching: love is the only force capable of turning an enemy into a friend.”
Still, he acknowledged that the “violation of our spiritual home was traumatic for each” member of Congregation Beth Israel.
“To my CBI family – I wish I had a magic wand. I wish I could take away all of our pain and struggle,” he said.
He then led affirmations to “stand together against hate, bigotry and violence” as well as “stand together in love to support each other”.
“It’s up to us to build the world we hope to see,” he said at the end of his powerful speech.
Earlier Monday, the rabbi revealed on ‘CBS Mornings’ how he retaliated against British terrorist Malik Faisal Akram when it ‘didn’t look good’ because the hostage taker was becoming ‘more and more belligerent and menacing”.
“I threw a chair at the shooter,” he said, crediting the active shooter training he received for helping him know what to do.
Akram was shot after the four hostages escaped. He was able to travel to the United States at the end of last month, despite a history of mental illness, a criminal record and a previous investigation by Britain’s MI5 spy agency.