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Victim Lori Gilbert-Kaye mourned as 'jewel of our community'

Three wounded in Poway synagogue shooting released from the hospital

Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein was shot in both hands, 8-year-old Noya Dahan suffered shrapnel wounds, and her uncle Almog Peretz was wounded in leg

Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein speaks at a news conference at the Chabad of Poway synagogue, Sunday, April 28, 2019, in Poway, Calif. A man opened fire Saturday inside the synagogue near San Diego as worshippers celebrated the last day of a major Jewish holiday. (AP Photo/Denis Poroy)
Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein speaks at a news conference at the Chabad of Poway synagogue, Sunday, April 28, 2019, in Poway, Calif. A man opened fire Saturday inside the synagogue near San Diego as worshippers celebrated the last day of a major Jewish holiday. (AP Photo/Denis Poroy)

The three people wounded in the  Southern California synagogue shooting, including the congregation’s rabbi, were all released from hospital, officials said Sunday.

The fourth victim, sixty-year-old Lori Gilbert-Kaye died after being shot Saturday at Chabad of Poway near San Diego during a Passover service.

Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, 8-year-old Noya Dahan and Almog Peretz, 34, were all wounded in the attack.

Goldstein was shot in both hands as he lifted his hands to protect his face. He lost a finger on the left hand and had a four-hour surgery on the right hand to try to preserve his “severely damaged index finger,” he said.

Goldstein told CNN that his scarred hand will serve as a reminder how vulnerable we all are to acts of terror.

A Message From Rabbi Goldstein of Chabad of Poway

Words of wisdom, pain and healing from Rabbi Goldstein, the rabbi of Chabad of Poway.Learn more about what happened and how to get involved: chabad.org/lxsk5q

Posted by Chabad.org on Sunday, April 28, 2019

Dahan said she had just finished praying and was getting ready to go play with other kids when gunshots rang out.

Noya Dahan, an Israeli girl injured in a shooting at a US Chabad synagogue in Poway, California on April 27, 2019. (Courtesy)

She said that her uncle rushed her and the other children outside as the gunman fired repeatedly.

The girl said her leg was bleeding but doctors at the hospital told her she wouldn’t need surgery. Her uncle, 34-year-old Almog Peretz, was also struck by shrapnel and has been released from a hospital.

Her father, 32-year-old Israel Dahan, said he flipped over a folding table as soon as he saw the man enter carrying a long rifle.

Peretz, who was wounded in the leg, had moved to California just a few months ago from the Israeli town of Sderot near the Gaza border, a frequent target of rocket attacks by the Hamas terror group. He said a man entered the synagogue and started shooting in all directions.

“I was with my back to the shooter. I heard a shot or two and then turned around to face him and that’s when he fired at me. I ran quickly, picking up a small girl in my hands,” he told the Ynet news site. “He hit me once in the leg and I kept running. I didn’t feel it much since there were so many bullets flying by. I heard them and I saw them right next to me.”

Almog Peretz, an Israeli man injured in a shooting at a US Chabad synagogue in Poway, California on April 27, 2019. (Screenshot: Channel 12)

Several people have said that Gilbert-Kaye threw herself in front of Goldstein to protect him, possibly saving his life.

“Lori you were a jewel of our community a true Eshet Chayil, a Woman of Valor,” her friend Audrey Jacobs, a community activist, wrote in a post on Facebook. “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.”

No one was quite so thoughtful as Gilbert-Kaye, said Lisa Busalacchi, her friend since second grade.

“It’s not like she gave a million dollars for a building, but if someone was sick or someone died, she was the first one there with food or asking what she could do,” Busalacchi told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency in an interview.

Busalacchi said that Kaye was deeply committed to the congregation, and had recently traveled to New York to attend the wedding of Rabbi Goldstein’s daughter. “It made sense that she was [at Chabad]; it was her whole life,” she said.

Lori Gilbert-Kaye, who was killed in a shooting at a San Diego County synagogue on April 27, 2019 (Facebook)

“Anti-Semitism is real and is deadly,” Jacobs also wrote. “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.”

Gilbert-Kaye was in synagogue on Saturday morning to remember her late mother during Yizkor, a memorial service held on major Jewish festivals, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported. Her husband, a physician, was in synagogue with her. When he started to perform CPR on a victim and realized it was his wife, he fainted, according to the report.

“God picked her to die to send a message because she’s such an incredible person,” her friend, Dr. Roneet Lev, told the newspaper. “He took her for a higher purpose to send this message to fight anti-Semitism.”

Apropos of nothing, Gilbert-Kaye would drop off gifts at her friends’ homes, Busalacchi said. And she didn’t send one card for a birthday or anniversary, she sent three or four.

“Literally it was no less than three cards for every occasion,” Busalacchi said.

Rare was the Friday night that the Kayes did not have Shabbat guests — often there were 10 or more people at the table. She would invite friends to the family’s sukkah on Sukkot, and host a break the fast after Yom Kippur. She made her own challah, and recently forwarded a Passover carrot kugel recipe to Busalacchi.

Gilbert-Kaye loved to garden — “we’re talking eight different kinds of lettuce and five different kinds of tomatoes” — and to talk politics, her friend recalled.

Suspected San Diego shooter John Earnest (YouTube screenshot)

“She was a devout Trump supporter,” Busalacchi said. “When he was running for office, she would toast” the president, “and after he won she would toast to that.”

John T. Earnest, 19, surrendered to police after bursting into the synagogue north of San Diego and opening fire as about 100 people were worshipping inside. He stopped when his gun jammed.

The shooting in Poway’s Chabad synagogue came exactly six months after a white supremacist killed 11 people at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue — the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in US history.

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