It's been a year in the Jewish calendar since the Chabad of Poway synagogue shooting in California, which took place during Shabbat morning services on Passover. Unfortunately, mirroring last year's post-attack occurrences, the synagogue finds itself shutting its doors once again, only this time for the safety of its congregants from the coronavirus.
With the doors closed, the community finds itself dispersed and unable to commemorate the yahrzeit, the Jewish anniversary of a death, of community member Lori Gilbert-Kaye, who fell victim of the attack. Kaye was about to say Yizkor, the Jewish memorial prayer, for her mother when she was shot, according to the Jewish Press.
The distilled Shabbat services and the memorial unable to be held is a stark contrast to last year, when after the attack thousands showed up to mourn Kaye's death in a San Diego vigil.
Three others were also injured in the attack, one of whom was Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, who's hands were both injured, causing him to permanently lose a finger. Rabbi Goldstein's son, Rabbi Mendel Goldstein, stepped into his father's role in order to finish the day's prayers, and told the Jewish Press that the anniversary of the shooting brings to mind the aftermath of that day.
While the services were concluded in Rabbi Mendel's home, they were finishing the Yizkor service that was interrupted during the attack when they learned of Kaye's death. “By the time we reached Yizkor, we had received the terrible news that Lori was no longer among the living, and we recited the memorial prayer for her mere hours after she passed away.”
Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein later retired, seven months after the attack, after travelling the world giving speeches about the attack and its aftermath. Rabbi Mendel then took over the position for his father, who founded the Chabad of Poway in 1996.Perpetrator of the attack was John Earnest, 20 at the time of the shooting. He left a manifesto, detailing that: "Every Jew young and old has contributed to these [crimes]. For these crimes they deserve nothing but hell. I will send them there."
Others injured in the attack were Almog Peretz who was shot in the leg, and his niece, Noya Dahan who was eight years old at the time, and was struck in the face by bullet fragments. Peretz later sued the synagogue, alleging that the synagogue didn't hire security with the allotted federal funds. Peretz's lawyer Yoni Weinberg commented, "If we were only to have John Earnest in the lawsuit, changes would never get made." Adding, "Hopefully this pressure ... influences them to make a change to protect their congregants and it influences other synagogues as well."Zacahry Keyser, Mary Oster/JTA and Emmanuel Morgan/TNS contributed to this report.