POWAY, California—Lori Gilbert Kaye dreamed as a child of being a TV newscaster who shared stories about the world with viewers. But in a tragic turn of events Kaye became the focus of news reports worldwide in recent days because she was killed in the shooting at Chabad of Poway synagogue while trying to protect her rabbi.
Kaye’s 22-year-old daughter, Hannah, told those gathered at the synagogue Monday for Kaye’s funeral, it is fitting her mother will be remembered for her brave actions on Saturday.
“For this, my mother’s childhood dream has come true of wanting to share a story with the world, in this case, her heroism,” said Hannah, a UCLA student.
Kaye, 60, was the only person killed in the shooting believed to be inspired by the anti-Semitism of a lone gunman, though three others were injured, including Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein.
Howard Kaye, a doctor who unsuccessfully tried to revive his wife after she was shot, said the bloodshed was a stark contrast to the message of peace his wife promoted. Kaye kept a peace pole outside their house that said in multiple languages, “May peace prevail on earth.”
“That is the universal message from Lori, and our household and of my daughter,” Howard Kaye said.
Kaye, who was at Chabad on Saturday along with her family for the last day of Passover to mourn her late mother, was also remembered as a devout Jew from a young age.
Hannah Kaye said Passover and Sukkot were her mother’s favorite holidays. Randi Grossman, one of two sisters Kaye leaves behind, recounted a Passover Seder she attended at Kaye’s Poway house just last week.
“You and Howard led the most beautiful Seder, of course ending with your trademark parting gifts,” Grossman said.
Many speakers at the funeral, which drew an overflow crowd watching on a large screen outside, remembered Kaye’s generosity.
She was known for delivering challah bread and coffee to family, friends and strangers.
Roneet Lev called Kaye the “queen of knick-knacks” and said her close friend’s generosity almost got her into trouble one time. Lev shared how airport security once stopped her and showed her there was a long knife in her luggage. At first, Lev thought the object couldn’t be hers.
“Then I remembered Lori,” Lev said. “She gave me a wrapped present to give my sister: a challah knife.”
Others who helped thwart the shooter from inflicting further damage were also acknowledged during the service on a gray and, at points, rainy day in Poway.
Oscar Stewart, an Iraq War Army veteran who yelled expletives at the gunman and helped chase him outside, sang “God Bless America” along with Poway Mayor Steve Vaus.
John T. Earnest, a 19-year-old nursing student, has been charged with Kaye’s murder and three counts of attempted murder. He will be arraigned Tuesday afternoon in San Diego County Superior Court.
Kaye’s daughter said she believes her mother has already forgiven the shooter “because her mission, how she lived her life, and her decision to preserve the life of the leader of the community.”
Meanwhile, Howard Kaye concluded his remarks about his late wife with a message for those perpetrating hatred in the world.
“Turn your life around,” he said. “Come back into the real world, the world of Lori, which is peace and love on earth.”