Woman killed in San Diego Synagogue shooting was trying to protect rabbi

Lori Gilbert Kaye is remembered as 'a heroine in Jewish history'


Lori Gilbert Kaye, the woman who was killed in the attack on the Chabad of Poway Synagogue in San Diego on the last day of Pesach, has been hailed as a heroine for saving the life of a rabbi.

In a tribute to the 60-year-old mother, her friend Audrey Jacobs wrote: “You were always running to do a mitzvah and generously gave tzedaka to everyone. Your final good deed was jumping in front of Rabbi Goldstein to take the bullet and save his life.”

Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, 57, was leading the service and was shot in both hands.

Ms Jacobs added that her friend was “a jewel of our community and a true Eshet Chayil [Woman of Valour]”. She left behind “a devastated husband and 22-year-old daughter”.

In a radio interview, another friend of Mrs Gilbert Kaye, Dr Ronit Lev, said: “Our rabbi, Yisroel Goldstein, who was taken to the emergency room, told everyone that she saved his life because she stood in front of him.

“She was a Zionist. She went to synagogue to say Kaddish for the first time in her life, for her mother who passed away, and it was important for her to be in a synagogue.”

“Her husband is a doctor in the community and he heard the shooting. He performed resuscitation on his wife not knowing it was her. Then he saw her face and fainted.”

Israel’s Diaspora Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett has said that Mrs Gilbert Kaye “will be remembered as a heroine in Jewish history”.

Chabad reported that before Rabbi Goldstein would allow himself to be taken to hospital, he told the congregation of a passage from the Haggadah: “Not just one alone has risen against us to destroy us, but in every generation they rise against us to destroy us; and the Holy One, blessed be He, saves us from their hand.” He went on to talk about remaining strong in the face of adversity and hate.

Police later allowed congregants to regroup in the nearby home of Chabad's Rabbi Mendel Goldstein, where prayers were concluded. The service included a memorial prayer for Mrs Gilbert Kaye.

The others injured have been named as Noya Dahan, 8, originally from Sderot in Israel, who received shrapnel wounds to the face and leg, and her uncle Almog Peretz, 34, who was shot in the leg as he ushered children into a playroom for safety. 

Chabad also reported that as the attacker paused to reload, "a Chabad regular and US military veteran heroically rushed him. As the shooter fled, an off-duty Border Patrol officer shot and struck the shooter’s vehicle four times."

The suspect, who has been identified as John T Earnest, 19, is said to have surrendered to police after dialling 911.

The San Diego Sheriff's Department said it had heightened security around religious buildings but encouraged faith communities "to continue with scheduled events and other activities as normal. The suspect in the Poway incident has been captured and we believe he acted alone."

San Diego County Sheriff Bill Gore said authorities were probing a possible connection to an arson attack on a mosque in nearby Escondido last month.

Share via

Want more from the JC?

To continue reading, we just need a few details...

Want more from
the JC?

To continue reading, we just
need a few details...

Get the best news and views from across the Jewish world Get subscriber-only offers from our partners Subscribe to get access to our e-paper and archive