People Are Paying Tribute To The California Synagogue Shooting Victim Who “Took The Bullet For All Of Us”
Friends of Lori Gilbert Kaye say she died saving the rabbi at the synagogue in Poway, but details of the event are unclear.
People are celebrating the woman who died Saturday after a gunman opened fire at a synagogue in Poway, California, as a caring friend and an anchor of the community.
Lori Gilbert Kaye, 60, was killed in the attack, which occurred on Shabbat, the last day of Passover, and the six-month anniversary of the deadly synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh.
Kaye was "a true Eshet Chayil, a Woman of Valor," her friend Audrey Jacobs wrote in a Facebook post.
"You were always running to do a mitzvah (good deed) and gave tzedaka (charity) to everyone," Jacobs said.
According to CNN, Kaye died after she stepped in between the gunman and the synagogue's founding rabbi, Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein.
Goldstein, 57, suffered gunshot wounds to both his index fingers, and will likely lose his right one, a doctor at Palomar Medical Center reportedly said.
As he was being taken into surgery, Goldstein reportedly told Roneet Lev, a synagogue member and Kaye's friend for 25 years, that Kaye had saved his life.
“It’s impossible to recall, to understand what happened. It happened all so quickly,” Goldstein told CNN’s Brian Stelter in an interview Sunday afternoon.
“In my own interpretation, Lori took the bullet for all of us. She died to protect all of us,” Goldstein told reporters at a press conference on Sunday. He described Kaye as "a person of unconditional love."
Kaye "leaves behind a devastated husband and 22-year-old daughter," Jacobs said. She was reportedly at the synagogue Saturday to recite Yizkor — a special memorial prayer said four times a year on major holidays — for her mother who died in November.
Her husband, a doctor, rushed to the synagogue to treat victims after he heard about the shooting. He fainted upon learning his wife was one of them, Jacobs wrote.
"She didn't die a senseless death," Lev told CNN. "She died advertising the problem we have with anti-Semitism and to bring good to this world. ... If God put an angel on this planet, it would have been Lori."
Michelle Silverman told USA Today that Kaye was one of her closest friends, and that they had known each other more than five decades. “If there’s anybody in need, she’s the first one to step forward and say 'I can help,'" Silverman said.
After getting out of surgery Sunday, Goldstein spoke on the Today show about Kaye; he said he'd been friends with her for more than 30 years. Kaye and her husband had flown to New York just two weeks prior to attend Goldstein's daughter's wedding, he said.
"I started this congregation 35 years ago from the ground up. ... Lori was the one who helped me secure a construction loan," he said. "And she’s been a steadfast member, supporter, and philanthropist. Just a kind soul. Everyone in the community knew her."
Goldstein called upon the government to do more to keep houses of worship for all religions safe from violence and terrorism.
"I guarantee you, we will not be intimidated or deterred by this terror," Goldstein said. "Terror will not win. As Americans, we can’t cower in the face of this senseless hate that is anti-Semitism."
Goldstein was released from the hospital Sunday following surgery, a spokesperson for the hospital said.
Kaye's death has been met with an outpouring of grief and condolences, with many people calling her a hero.
Noya Dahan, 8, and her uncle, Almog Peretz, 34, were also injured in the attack. Both have been released from the hospital.
Noya's family moved from Israel to the US eight years ago after both her parents were injured by rocket fire.
Her father, Israel Dahan, told CNN their home was vandalized with swastikas a few years ago, and now his children are questioning why they even moved to the US.
"[We were] under the impression that everything is good here," Dahan said. "Today we noticed this is not even close to be regular life."
Alongside her post about Kaye, Jacobs shared a photo of Noya lying in her hospital bed.
"She asked for her picture to be shared and for everyone to know she’s strong," Jacobs wrote.
Peretz, who still lives in Israel, was visiting the family in the US for Passover.
He was shot in the leg while saving multiple children, rushing them toward the exit, a witness told Fox 5 San Diego.
In the chaos, Danny Almog, who was in the synagogue at the time of the shooting, couldn't find one of his daughters. After calling out her name, Peretz replied that he had her with him.
“He grabbed all the kids in his hands and was just running towards the exit (when) he saw another kid over there," Danny Almog said. "He grabbed him and started running and [that's when] the shooter shot him in the leg. He didn’t care. He kept on running with the kids and just ran out.”