Hundreds of people joined Lori Kaye’s family and friends on Monday to mourn the woman who was killed Saturday when she shielded her California synagogue’s rabbi from a gunman’s bullets.
"Everyone was her sister, everyone was her trusted confidante," Kaye’s 22-year-old daughter, Hannah Kaye, said at an emotional memorial service. "Everyone was her friend."
The 60-year-old woman was at the Chabad of Poway, located in a suburban city north of San Diego, on Saturday when accused gunman John Earnest, 19, opened fire inside during Passover service, officials said. Witnesses recalled Kaye jumping in front of rabbi Yisroel Goldstein to shield him from the bullets — a heroic move that family and friends said embodied her life values.
"She had a soul that was greater than any of us ever could believe," said her husband, Dr. Howard Kaye.
Her husband performed CPR on his wife after she was shot and said she did not suffer.
"She went straight up," he said.
Kaye was described as a “pioneer, founding member” of the congregation who was dedicated to going out of her way to help others. Those who knew her recalled Kaye driving hours to visit a sick friend and buying six months’ worth of medication for a person who didn’t have insurance.
She left her freshly baked challah in mail boxes and on doorsteps all over town and would buy extra bagels and coffee during her morning routine to be able to give them away, her family and friends said. She donated to several charities throughout her life.
"Her light has reached all crevices of this planet," Hannah Kaye said, adding that she believed her mother would have forgiven the accused gunman who killed her.
Hundreds of people, including local city and police leaders along with federal and state lawmakers, gathered at the memorial service for Lori Kaye. Her daughter said the 60-year-old would have been happy to see so many people.
Those injured — Goldstein, who lost one of his fingers in the shooting, Noya Dahan, 8, and Kaye’s uncle Almog Peretz — were also released from the hospital to attend the memorial.
Goldstein previously told “Today” he was heartbroken over his dear friend’s death.
“She’s just such a dear friend. I’ve known her for 33 years and I’m just so heartbroken and saddened by the senseless killing,” Goldstein told "Today."
In a New York Times op-ed on Tuesday, Goldstein recalled seeing Kay “bleeding on the ground.”
“And I saw the terrorist who murdered her,” the rabbi wrote. “This terrorist was a teenager. He was standing there with a big rifle in his hands. And he was now aiming it at me. For one reason: I am a Jew.”
Goldstein said he doesn’t know why “God spared my life.”
“I do not know God’s plan. All I can do is try to find meaning in what has happened. And to use this borrowed time to make my life matter more,” he wrote.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.