Rabbis held hostage by armed man leading prayer in synagogue in Texas

The service was a crucial step in the healing process, the rabbi said.

The Texas rabbi, who threw a chair at an armed man to help himself and two others survive a hostage situation, held a prayer service in the wake of the deadly ordeal.

Just two days after a suspected gunman took Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker and two other congregations hostage at the Congregation Beth Israel Synagogue in Colleyville, Texas, the rabbi led a worship service aimed at “putting this horrific event behind us and be grateful for a good result, ”according to a post on the synagogue’s Facebook page.

Cytron-Walker began the service by describing both the beauty and cruelty found on Earth.

“God, I long to feel your presence – not just this day, but every day,” the rabbi said. “I do not pretend to know your ways.”

Assemblies gathered at the healing service, many in masks and separated by several seats. Several went on stage to sing prayer songs in Hebrew.

Cytron-Walker also provoked Martin Luther King Jr., quoting civil rights activists on the holiday dedicated to him.

“Without love, there is no need to know anyone,” Cytron-Walker said. “For love will ultimately connect us with our neighbor, our children, and our hearts.”

The rabbi was preparing for Sabbath worship services on Saturday when the suspect, identified by the FBI as 44-year-old British citizen Malik Faisal Akram, knocked on a window in the temple. The rabbi invited Akram in for tea and heard a click from a gun during the Sabbath service, which was attended only by a handful of congregations. He and three other male congregations were initially taken hostage, but Akram freed one of them.

Cytron-Walker asked the others to run before throwing the chair at Akram after the suspect became visibly frustrated and belligerent that his demands were not met, the rabbi said. Cytron-Walker and other members of the congregation had previously taken active shooting drills from the Colleyville Police Department, FBI, Anti-Defamation League and a local group called the Secure Community Network.

Akram was shot and killed by an elite FBI hostage rescue team that broke the synagogue.

Cytron-Walker said in an interview with CBS News Monday morning, where he looked forward to returning to his house of prayer and described it as a crucial step in the healing process.

“It will not necessarily be an easy thing,” he said, “but it is a really important thing.”

ABC News’ Bill Hutchinson contributed to this report.


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