(CNSNews.com) - At a Sunday afternoon news conference, an emotional Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein thanked President Donald Trump for his words of "comfort and consolation" following the shooting on Saturday at a synagogue near San Diego.
"I see a sight that is indescribable," Goldstein said, as he described the act of evil on the final day of Passover: "Here is a young man with a rifle, pointing right at me. And I look at him. He has sunglasses on. I couldn't see his eyes. I couldn't see his soul. I froze."
A parishioner, 60-year-old Lori Gilbert-Kaye, died as she put herself between the 19-year-old gunman and the rabbi.
"As I was in my house, I received a personal phone call from our President Donald Trump," the rabbi told a news conference.
I was amazed to answer the phone and (hear) the secretary of the White House is calling. And he spent close to 10-15 minutes with me on the phone. It's the first time I have ever spoken to a president of the United States of America.
He shared with me condolences on behalf of the United States of America. And we spoke about the moment of silence. And he spoke about the love of peace and Judaism and Israel. And he was just so comforting, and I'm really grateful to our president for taking the time and making that effort to share with us his comfort and consolation.
President Trump on Monday tweeted about his conversation with the rabbi:
"I spoke at length yesterday to Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, Chabad of Poway, where I extended my warmest condolences to him and all affected by the shooting in California," Trump wrote. "What a great guy. He had a least one finger blown off, and all he wanted to do is help others. Very special!"
At his Sunday news conference, the rabbi had some advice for people of all faiths, and he called for public schools to begin the day with a moment of silence:
"We all need to teach everyone, no matter what religion you're from, we need to do random acts of kindness. We need to tilt the scale. There's so much darkness now in the world, but you and I have the ability to change."
Goldstein said he will never forget the events of Saturday:
"My missing finger will forever scar me, physically. But it's going to remind me of how vulnerable we are and also how heroic each one of us can be. We are all created in God's image, we're all partners in creation, no matter what faith or religion you're from. We all have to make this world a better place, to prevent this from ever happening again."
The suspect fled after his rifle jammed, but he later turned himself in.
Rabbi Goldstein also urged the nation's public schools to reintroduce a moment of silence at the start of each school day. “What are we teaching our children?" he asked. "We need to perhaps consider reintroducing in our public school system a moment of silence where children can start the day with pausing and thinking why am I created, why am I here, and what am I going to do? So I certainly hope we can grow from this."