July 18, 2019

Mourning the Loss of Chabad Synagogue Congregant Lori Gilbert Kaye

Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein eulogizes Lori Gilbert-Kaye, the sole fatality of Saturday’s shooting at Congregation Chabad synagogue in Poway, north of San Diego, California, U.S. April 29, 2019. REUTERS/John Gastaldo

On April 27 at Chabad of Poway, an anti-Semitic gunman shot and killed my friend Lori Gilbert-Kaye, 60. She was a jewel of our community — a true Eshet Chayil, a Woman of Valor. She always was rushing to do a mitzvah (good deed) and giving tzedakah (charity) for everyone. Her final good deed, witnesses said, was taking the bullets meant for Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, who was wounded but survived.

Gilbert-Kaye leaves behind a devastated husband and a 22-year-old daughter, Hannah.

When Gilbert-Kaye was shot, she wasn’t next to her husband, Howard Kaye, who is a doctor. Witnesses said after she was shot, people screamed for help, and her husband approached to perform CPR on the fallen victim. When he saw it was his wife, he fainted.

When I heard the horrific news, I called Gilbert-Kaye’s best friend of 25 years, Dr. Roneet Lev, who was at the hospital with the other victims and their families. They asked that their story be shared.

At Chabad of Poway, a San Diego suburb, on April 27, Shabbat and the last day of the Passover holiday, authorities said a 19-year-old stormed in and said, “F— the Jews” and opened fire with a semi-automatic rifle. The suspect reportedly had posted an online manifesto that featured anti-Semitic screeds and talked about planning the attack. He is suspected of shooting and killing Gilbert-Kaye, who was standing between the gunman and Goldstein. Goldstein was shot in the hand, and afterward told his congregation to stay strong. As he was being wheeled into surgery, he said, “Let everyone know Lori Kaye saved me.”

The heroes and God’s hand prevented the killer from claiming more lives.

Other victims sustaining injuries include an 8-year-old girl, Noya Dahan, who was hit by shrapnel. She asked for her photo to be shared and for everyone to know she’s strong.

The other victim, who sustained shrapnel wounds in the leg, was Almog Peretz, 34, Noya’s uncle who lives in Sderot, Israel, and was visiting his family for the Passover holiday. He is being credited with ushering children to safety after the shooting began.

Miraculously, the shooter’s gun had jammed. A man named Oscar Stewart, a 51-year-old Army veteran, reportedly confronted the gunman and chased him into the parking lot. Other members of the synagogue, who carried licensed concealed weapons, also went after him. An off-duty Border Patrol agent who was working as a private security guard for the synagogue, Jonathan Morales, fired at the gunman’s car.

The heroes and God’s hand prevented the killer from claiming more lives. Fortunately, the suspect was caught and is in custody. Thank you to our law enforcement for your support.

Here’s the insane irony: Noya Dahan’s family moved to San Diego from the Sderot (San Diego’s sister city) to get away from the terrorism and the constant attacks on their community. The peaceful city in Israel they’re from is in the Negev and is less than a mile from the Gaza border. For years, their home has been a major target of Qassam rocket attacks from terrorists in the Gaza Strip. After they moved to San Diego, swastikas were painted on the family’s vehicle and garage.

Anti-Semitism is real and is deadly. Hate crimes are real and are deadly. Lori Gilbert-Kaye would have wanted all of us to stand up to hate. She was a warrior of love and she will be missed. May her memory be a blessing. To honor her, please perform an act of kindness today with her in mind.

Please pray for the recovery of Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, Almog Peretz and Noya Dahan.


This post was originally published on Facebook April 27 and is featured here with her permission. It has since been updated with new information from the author.