(JTA) — Lori Gilbert-Kaye, who was killed in the attack at a Chabad synagogue near San Diego, is credited with jumping in front of the synagogue’s rabbi to shield him from the gunman’s bullets.
Gilbert-Kaye, 60, of San Diego, is survived by her husband and 22-year-old daughter.
“Lori you were a jewel of our community a true Eshet Chayil, a Woman of Valor. You were always running to do a mitzvah (good deed) and gave tzedaka (charity) to everyone. Your final good deed was taking the bullets for Rabbi (Yisroel) Goldstein to save his life,” wrote her friend, Audrey Jacobs, a community activist, in a post on Facebook.
CNN reported that Kaye was at synagogue Saturday to say Kaddish, the mourner’s prayer, for her deceased mother, in the prayer service known as Yizkor that happens only a few times in the Jewish calendar.
“She didn’t die a senseless death,” Roneet Lev, a friend of Kaye’s for 25 years and a member of the Poway synagogue, 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.”
“When I think of her, I can only smile,” Lev said.
CNN also reported Sunday morning that Gilbert-Kaye’s husband, a doctor, was called over to perform CPR on Kaye in the moments after she was shot. In the rush of the moment, Kaye’s husband reportedly did not immediately realize who he was performing CPR on. When he saw that it was his wife, he fainted.
The rabbi was shot in both of his index fingers and required surgery. He reportedly continued speaking even after being shot, and prayed for unity and peace, and talked about remaining strong in the face of adversity and hate, Chabad.org News reported.
The rabbi also serves as a Jewish chaplain at the local San Diego police department.
This is Lori Gilbert-Kaye. She was murdered yesterday in her synagogue trying to protect her rabbi.
Her last public FB post was for Chai Lifeline, which supports families with sick kids.
May her Neshama have an aliyah and may we continue her work:https://t.co/WD3p7VUCrd pic.twitter.com/46rh9RJPzh— Laura E. Adkins (@Laura_E_Adkins) April 28, 2019
Lori Gilbert-Kaye sacrificed her own life, throwing herself in the path of the shooter bullets to save the life of the rabbi. Other heroes wear dresses.
BDE Lori, true Jewish hero and a model for all of us of a real brave soul. Zichrona Livracha pic.twitter.com/iJnvHZlRQD— Hen Mazzig חן מזיג (@HenMazzig) April 28, 2019
“Anti-Semitism is real and is deadly. Hate crimes are real and are deadly. Lori would have wanted all of us to stand up to hate. She was a warrior of love and she will be missed. May Lori’s memory be a blessing,” Jacobs also wrote.
Gilbert-Kaye’s Facebook page is filed with posts raising funds for groups and individuals in need. Dozens of people, mostly strangers, left messages on her latest post for Chai Lifeline offering condolences to her family and mourning her death.
Additional reporting by Ari Feldman.