When a gunman opened fire in a synagogue in California, killing one and injuring three others, Lori Kaye jumped between the shooter and the rabbi.
Kaye, 60, was shot at the synagogue and died at a nearby hospital.
In addition to Kaye, at least three others were wounded in the shooting Saturday at Congregation Chabad in Poway, north of San Diego. By late Sunday morning, all three injured victims had been discharged from a hospital.
Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, 57, had been shot in the hand when Kaye stepped between him and the gunman. The rabbi suffered what looked like defensive wounds to both his index fingers, a doctor at the Palomar Medical Center said.
She was at the synagogue to say a prayer for her mother
Speaking at Sunday’s vigil, Goldstein praised Kaye, saying she was “the example of kindness to the fullest extent” and would bring joy and happiness to members of the congregation.
“She was more about living than taking and she did it with such a smile,” the rabbi said. As an example, he said Kaye had made it a mission to accompany one woman diagnosed with breast cancer to every one of her oncology visits. “She went out of her way until the moment that that woman passed away.”
Kaye had been extraordinary, he said. “She had an amazing spirit to her — an amazing attitude to life.”
Roneet Lev, a member of the congregation and Kaye’s friend of 25 years, was not at the synagogue but told CNN she rushed to the hospital when she heard about the shooting. As Goldstein was being wheeled into surgery, he told her how her friend saved his life, she said.
Kaye had attended services Saturday to say a Kaddish prayer for her mother, who died in November, Lev said.
Kaye’s husband is a physician and rushed to the scene to perform CPR after he heard about the shooting. When he realized his wife was a victim, he fainted, Lev said.
“She didn’t die a senseless death,” Lev said. “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.”
Kaye, a native of San Diego, leaves behind her husband and a 22-year-old daughter, Lev said.
Noya Dahan, 8
Noya was at the synagogue with her two sisters and was injured by shrapnel, her father said.
The girl was wounded in one leg and in the face, and was transferred to a children’s hospital. “We’re shocked, it’s a little bit scary. We’re all over the place,” Israel Dahan said early Sunday.
The family moved from Israel eight years ago to live in a safer community after both he and his wife were injured by rockets.
“(We were) under the impression that everything is good here. Today we noticed this is not even close to be regular life,” Dahan said.
A few years ago, he said, their home was sprayed with swastikas. Now his children don’t want to live in the United States, he said. After the shooting, he said, they asked him one question.
“Why we are staying here?”
Noya attended the vigil and where she was introduced as a “very brave young lady,” to cheers from attendees.
Asked earlier by CNN about her hopes for the future and message to the world, Noya said: “I want them to know that the world isn’t supposed to be like this. It’s supposed to be peaceful and quiet and not like wars and bad stuff. It’s supposed to be like people communicating and being nice to each other. But unfortunately, it’s not like that.”
Noya said that her uncle had saved several children including her. “Because he got the shot, like someone shot him instead of shooting me. Even though I got a little shrapnel but I didn’t get hit too bad,” she said.
Almog Peretz, 34
Almog Peretz is Dahan’s brother-in-law. He was injured by shrapnel while trying to protect his niece, the girl’s father said.
Peretz was visiting from Israel for Passover and was attending Saturday service with his family when the shooting happened, Lev said.
When Peretz saw the shooter aiming the rifle at children, he opened up the large doors, yelled for them to get out and helped bring the children to a nearby home to hide, Lev said.
Two of the children were missing for about 45 minutes after the shooting because they were still hiding, Lev said. Peretz told Lev if the shooter’s rifle didn’t jam, the children would have been shot.
Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, 57
Goldstein addressed Sunday’s vigil with both hands bandaged, describing seeing the gunman as “the worst sight you ever could imagine.”
“He starts shooting right towards me. I lift my hands to protect my face. Lost my right index. Badly injured my left-hand index,” he said.
“I realize there’s an active shooter right here right now. What must I do now? I turn around where all the children were gathered in the banquet hall and I gather them and I usher them outside. Amongst those children was my 4-and-half-year old granddaughter and my 3-year-old grandson, who was sleeping in his carriage. Bullets are flying all over and I’m shouting and screaming for everyone to get out.”
“My granddaughter looks at me and says: ‘Grandpa, why are you bleeding? Why are you screaming?'”
Goldstein said the gunman’s rifle jamming was a “miracle of all miracles.”
Seeing Kaye on the ground, her husband trying to administer CPR, the rabbi said he thought to himself: “This is not supposed to happen. This is not Nazi Germany. This is not the pogrom. This is right here in Poway, this is our home.”
Congregation member Minoo Anvari, who said her husband witnessed the shooting, said the rabbi called for unity and prayed for peace even after getting shot.
“Rabbi said, ‘We are united,'” said Anvari, a refugee from Iran.
The shooting happened during a celebration for Passover, one of the holiest Jewish celebrations.