Synagogue hero ‘took bullet’ for rabbi
THE woman killed in Saturday's synagogue shooting was hailed a "Jewish hero" after it emerged she was hit while saving her rabbi's life.
According to the New York Post, Lori Gilbert-Kaye, 60, died during the Passover celebration at the Chabad of Poway Synagogue near San Diego when gunman John T Earnest, 19, burst in and opened fire with "an AR-type weapon," injuring three others, according to police and witnesses.
It has since emerged that Gilbert-Kaye dived in front of Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, 57, who was hit in his hands and believes the worshipper saved his life, according to reports.
The rabbi consoled the congregation even after being shot in the hand.
"Our rabbi … told everyone that she saved his life because she stood in front of him," insisted Dr Ronit Lev, who called Gilbert-Kaye "my best friend in all the world," according to the Jewish Press.
Unaware that his wife had been fatally wounded when she leapt in front of Rabbi Goldstein, saving his life, her physician-husband raced over to help victims of the bloodbath.
He started emergency CPR on Gilbert-Kaye - unaware she was his wife, family friend Dr Roneet Lev told The San Diego Union-Tribune.
The doctor fainted when he realised the victim was his spouse, Ms Lev said.
Another close friend, Audrey Jacobs, wrote a moving Facebook tribute praising her as a "jewel of our community" dedicated to good deeds and charity.
"Your final good deed was taking the bullets for Rabbi Goldstein to save his life," she wrote, noting that she "leaves behind a devastated husband and a 22-year-old daughter."
Israel's minister of diaspora affairs, Naftali Bennett, called Gilbert-Kaye a "hero who will be remembered 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," he said, according to the Jewish Press. "She has been described by those who knew her as an 'Eshet Chayil,' a 'Woman of Valour,' 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."
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also paid tribute.
"We send our condolences to Lori Gilbert-Kaye's family and wish a speedy recovery to those left wounded," Mr Netanyahu said. "The international community must step up its fight against anti-Semitism."
The attack happened six months to the day after 11 people were massacred at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, the deadliest attack on Jews in US history.
Yizkor, a special service for the departed, would have just been unfolding as Earnest stormed into the building with deadly intent, according to the synagogue's Facebook page.
Four people, including Rabbi Goldstein, were hit as Earnest reportedly shouted an anti-Semitic rant.
The 57-year-old rabbi underwent surgery on both his index fingers. He'll likely lose his right one, a trauma surgeon was quoted as saying.
Rabbi Goldstein originally hailed from New York.
This story first appeared in the New York Post and is republuisghed with permission.