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Now retired and living in San Diego, Rabbi Hillel Silverman said he was shocked and stunned to learn a member of his Dallas congregation had shot and killed JFK's assassin almost 50 years ago.
Jack Ruby killed Lee Harvey Oswald on an impulse, according to the rabbi who visited him regularly after the shooting.
Now retired and living in San Diego, Rabbi Hillel Silverman said he was shocked and stunned to learn a member of his Dallas congregation had shot and killed President John F. Kennedy's assassin almost 50 years ago.
Over the years, many believed Ruby was connected in some way to Oswald and may have been trying to silence him from talking about the assassination.
On Friday, the 50th anniversary of JFK’s assassination, Silverman talked with NBC 7 San Diego about his memories of the man many say destroyed the chance for Americans to learn why Oswald did what he did.
Silverman visited Ruby the day after he shot Oswald and remembers asking, "Jack, why did you do it?"
Ruby answered that did it for the American people, Silverman said.
The two men visited many times while Ruby was imprisoned. Silverman would bring Ruby religious prayer books and keeps a sketch of one of those meetings.
"He was belligerent, strange, volatile, bad-tempered and thought he was doing the right thing," the rabbi recalls of Ruby.
Silverman said he asked Ruby many times if there were any conspiracy involved, but Ruby always denied it.
“'I was angry. It was a fit of passion. I thought I was doing the American people a great deed, and I did it,’” Silverman recalls Ruby answering.
To this day, a clear majority of Americans still believe that Oswald didn't act alone and that there was a conspiracy behind Kennedy's assassination, according to a survey taken this year.
The Warren Commission, appointed by President Lyndon B. Johnson and led by Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren, concluded that Oswald was solely responsible for the president's death.
But according to an Associated Press-GfK survey conducted in mid-April, 59 percent of Americans think multiple people were involved, 24 percent think Oswald acted alone and 16 percent are unsure.
That's down from the 75 percent of Americans who believed in a conspiracy in 2003, according to a Gallup poll taken that year.