May 25, 2019

Poway: Saying Their Names

Lori Gilbert-Kaye

One died. Three were wounded. They are more than just names in newspaper headlines.

LORI GILBERT-KAYE, 60

Lori Gilbert-Kaye was killed on April 27 when a 19-year-old gunman allegedly walked into the Chabad of Poway in San Diego County armed with an assault rifle and fired on worshippers.

Gilbert-Kaye reportedly took a bullet for Chabad Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein. Her husband, Dr. Howard Kaye, tried to resuscitate her to no avail.

“Lori Gilbert-Kaye sacrificed her own life, throwing herself in the path of the shooter’s bullets to save the life of the rabbi,” Jewish-Israeli progressive activist Hen Mazzig wrote on Twitter. “Other heroes wear dresses.”

Gilbert-Kaye was a native of San Diego and a graduate of UCLA. She lived in Brentwood for a short time but spent most of her life in the San Diego area. In the early 1990s, she joined the Chabad community and helped Rabbi Goldstein at Chabad of Poway secure a construction loan after Goldstein purchased an empty lot he hoped to turn into the Chabad center. Gilbert-Kaye was working for Wells Fargo at that time.

“She was part of the building process when they started the synagogue and I know this was always one of her biggest honors,” Gilbert-Kaye’s 22-year-old daughter, Hannah, a student at UCLA said during her mother’s funeral on April 29.

In addition to her involvement with the Chabad of Poway, Gilbert-Kaye was active with the Hadassah Foundation, Chai Lifeline and other organizations.

At the time of her death, Gilbert-Kaye was working for the San Diego-based Pro Specialties Group, which is a supplier of licensed products for NFL, MLB, NBA and college teams. According to a statement from the company, Gilbert-Kaye was a member of its sales team for the past 12 years.

“Lori was known for her commitment to our clients, generosity of spirit, willingness to share her experiences and passion to persuade others to do the same,” the company said in a statement.

Gilbert-Kaye is survived by her husband and daughter.

RABBI YISROEL GOLDSTEIN, 57

Goldstein lost his right index finger in the attack and almost lost his left index finger. Goldstein sustained his injuries as he stood in front of the shooter with his hands held up.

Originally from the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn, Goldstein studied at the Rabbinical College of America in Morristown, N.J., in the late 1970s. He and his wife, Devorie, were sent to the community in Poway in the mid-1980s as emissaries of the late Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson. Goldstein runs the Chabad of Poway with the help of his son, Rabbi Mendel Goldstein.

“He answered the Lubavitch Rebbe’s call and went out to Rancho Bernado, to Poway,” said Mendy Herson, associate dean of the Rabbinical College of America.

Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein

Two days after the attack, Yisroel Goldstein wrote in an op-ed for The New York Times, “I am a religious man. I believe everything happens for a reason,” he wrote. “I do not know why God spared my life. I do not know why I had to witness scenes of a pogrom in San Diego County like the ones my grandparents experienced in Poland.”

“Any time there is an attack on a Jewish center, it’s horrible, no matter where it happens,” Herson said. “When it is a Chabad center, that’s me. That guy pointed a gun at me, and to hear about the horror that went on there, and when it’s someone you know and someone you’ve spoken with and someone you’ve had interactions with, of course you take it that much more personally. So this is very personal for me.

“He’s a sweetheart,” Herson said of Goldstein. “He really is.”

NOYA DAHAN, 8

Noya was hit during the attack by shrapnel, which lodged in her eye and leg.

The Dahan family moved to San Diego County from Israel in 2011. The April 27 attack was the third time her family had been forced to flee from a scene of violence. The Dahans used to live in the southern Israel town of Sderot, which has been a constant target of rocket attacks from Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

Noya’s father, Israel Dahan, said the family moved to California for a safer life.

After being released from the hospital, Noya said in an interview with CNN, “I don’t even have any words for [the attack]. It was terrifying. Scary. We go to pray and then we’re supposed to, like, supposed to feel safe.”

Noya Dahan

Her father said of the alleged shooter, “He was covered in magazines. They were all over his body. … He came to kill us. He came to grind us. The amount of bullets he had on him, he came to destroy this place.”

Dahan told CNN that he might consider moving again with his wife and five children. “I might need to run again,” he said, “and I need to prepare myself for the next run.”

ALMOG PERETZ, 34

Peretz is Noya’s uncle and works in construction in Israel. He was visiting his relatives in Poway from his home in Sderot and staying with them for a couple of months. He was hit in the leg during the attack. Shrapnel lodged in a bone and cannot be removed.

Almog Peretz

Upon hearing the first shots, Peretz, who served in the Israel Defense Forces, gathered the children and led them to safety. He has been called a hero.

Peretz told Israel’s Channel 12 news, “There were many small kids next to me. I took a little girl who was our neighbor and three nieces of mine and ran. I opened the back door and we ran with all the children to a building in the back. I hid them in that building. As I picked up the girl, the terrorist aimed his weapon at me. I was injured in the leg.”