Poway synagogue dedicates Torah in memory of shooting victim

Chabad of Poway dedicates new Torah scroll in honor of shooting attack victim Lori Gilbert-Kaye.

Ben Ariel ,

Chabad of Poway
Chabad of Poway

The Chabad of Poway synagogue dedicated a new Torah scroll in honor of Lori Gilbert-Kaye, who was killed in a shooting attack last month at the San Diego-area synagogue, JTA reported Thursday.

The ceremony took place Wednesday night marking the end of the shloshim (first 30-day mourning period) and the night of Lag Ba’Omer, when a period of semi-mourning for the Jewish community ends.

Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein filled in one of the last letters, using his right hand, which lost its index finger in the shooting, the San Diego Tribune reported.

Gilbert-Kaye’s husband and daughter, who were both in the synagogue during the attack, filled in the final letter of the scroll and then shared a hug before joining the congregation in dancing through the streets with the scroll.

“Her loss is still very raw, and it’s very painful,” Goldstein said at the dedication, according to the Tribune. “The Torah tonight is going to begin healing our hearts, that Lori’s life is not in vain.”

The scroll was a gift from the Jaffa Family Foundation of New York, Cleveland and Minneapolis.

The alleged gunman, 19-year-old John Earnest, entered the Chabad of Poway on April 27 and opened fire at worshippers. Gilbert-Kaye was killed and three people — the rabbi, an 8-year-old girl and her uncle — were injured.

Earnest was previously charged by local prosecutors with murder in the first degree and three counts of attempted murder.

Last week, federal prosecutors separately charged Earnest with 109 counts of hate crimes and civil rights offenses – 108 of them stemming from the synagogue shooting, and one relating to an arson incident at a mosque in the nearby town of Escondido.

The charges included 54 counts of hate-crime violations – one for each of the 54 people inside of the synagogue at the time of the attack – and 54 civil rights offenses.

Earnest has pleaded not guilty to all 109 charges.

Prior to the attack Earnest had published an anti-Semitic screed online in which he claimed responsibility for an arson attack against a mosque in the area weeks earlier.

Police investigating the shooting attack said Earnest acted alone and was not part of any organized group.