Following the 30-day mourning period of Lori Gilbert-Kaye’s death and the Jewish holiday of Lag b’Omer, the Poway Chabad community gathered May 22 to honor Gilbert-Kaye’s life and memory and to dedicate a Torah scroll in her honor.
Gilbert-Kaye, 60, was killed on April 27, the last day of Passover, during a shooting attack at Chabad of Poway.
“It has been a difficult past couple of weeks for our community, and especially for the Kaye family,” Chabad of Poway Senior Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein said in a statement. Goldstein, who was also wounded in the attack, said, “Lori was such a kind, loving soul, and she knew everyone here, so this is really an opportunity for the community to come together and heal, and celebrate the life of a very special person who was brutally taken from us.”
Goldstein’s son Rabbi Mendel Goldstein told the Journal around 300 people attended the emotional celebration.
The scroll, sponsored by the Jaffa Family Foundation of New York, Cleveland and Minneapolis, was left with the last paragraph unwritten so members of the community could write a letter on the scroll. Gilbert-Kaye’s husband, Dr. Howard Kaye, signed the last letter, a lamed, the Hebrew letter for L, which coincidentally is the first letter of Lori’s name.
“Lori was such a kind, loving soul, and she knew everyone here, so this is really an opportunity for the community to come together and heal, and celebrate the life of a very special person who was brutally taken from us.” — Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein
“On the one hand, we do miss Lori, but on the other, we are celebrating life,” Mendel Goldstein said. “We are celebrating an evening where we are still here and still strong. There is no better way to honor Lori than by honoring her with a Torah and staying connected with a Torah and to say nothing will stop us from being [Jewish].”
Howard Kaye said that before his wife’s death, she purchased a yad, the pointer used to read the Torah. He felt it should be donated alongside the Torah scroll in Gilbert-Kaye’s honor.
Following the dedication, the rabbis took the scroll and marched with it in the streets under a chuppah. “The dancing reminded us that though we are in hard times now, there are better things to come,” Mendel said. “We will never give up. We will stay strong [and] continue being committed to Torah and mitzvahs.”
Seventy-one-year-old Ray Poliakoff attended the dedication. “I have been involved with the congregation for years and years, and Lori was a very close friend of my family,” he told the Journal. “It’s very bittersweet. It was nice to honor Lori but there was a lot of darkness that happened. It’s difficult to get past it. But we all come together and try to be there for each other as best we can.”