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Lori Gilbert Kaye

According to witnesses from the Chabad of Poway synagogue, some 20 miles north of San Diego, Congregant Lori Gilbert Kaye, a senior account manager at Pro Specialties Group, on Saturday placed herself between the gunman and Chabad emissary Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein in an attempt to protect the rabbi, and was shot to death.

Read: Update: Victim Identified, Rabbi Among Wounded in Shooting at Chabad Shul in Poway, California


In an interview from California with Reshet Bet radio, Dr. Ronit Lev told of her friend Lori who was murdered: “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.”

Minister of Diaspora Affairs, Naftali Bennett, on Sunday morning declared, “Lori Gilbert Kaye z’l is a Jewish hero, and will be remembered as a hero in Jewish history. She sacrificed her own life, throwing herself in the path of the murderer’s bullets to save the life of the Rabbi.”

“But it is clear that such heroism and good deeds are not only characteristic of dear Lori in death, but this is the way she lived her life – at the heart of her community, constantly doing charity and good deeds for those in need,” Bennett continued. “She has been described by those who knew her as an ‘Eshet Chayil,’ a ‘Woman of Valor,’ and I would add, a true Hero of Israel. Our thoughts and prayers are with her husband and daughter, may they find great comfort in Lori’s tremendous example and courage.”

“Lori is my best friend in all the world, she’s the second mother of all my children,” Dr. Lev said. “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,” Dr. Lev recalled. “He performed resuscitation on his wife not knowing it was her. Then he saw her face and fainted.”

Lev added, “There’s a girl here from Sderot who was wounded. There’s terrorism in Israel, there’s terrorism in Sderot, but who knew there would be terrorism be terror here in Poway, California.”

An 8-year-old girl and her uncle, 31, were wounded in the attack Saturday. According to the Israeli foreign ministry, the two had migrated from Sderot to San Diego with their family a few years ago,

“They left Sderot because of what is happening there and came to pursue a little better life,” Dr. Lev said. “They all want the world to know that this was an act of anti-Semitism.”

Yael Ridberg, a Reform clergy from San Diego, told Reshet Bet: “There is a cancer of anti-Semitism today in the United States, it is tangible racism that we can say we have not seen in a long time. After [the mass shooting in a synagogue in] Pittsburgh, every synagogue has entered discussions about security. But hate plus [the shooter] procuring an automatic weapon, it does not matter what security you have, because these things put together mean no one can have security.”

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