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More than 1,000 people gathered at the Montreal Torah Centre on Monday to honour the woman who was killed defending a rabbi at a synagogue in San Diego.

The vigil for Lori Kaye was organized by several Jewish organizations and community leaders in response to the terrible events that took place at Chabad of Poway on Saturday, the last day of Passover.

Rabbi Goldstein addressed the vigil in Montreal via videoconference, telling them what had happened and explaining how events unfolded.

He said he was preparing for the service when he heard a loud sound, then turned around to see a young man.

A man armed with an assault rifle had walked into the synagogue and began firing at the rabbi when Kaye, 60, jumped in front of the gunman.

Rabbi Goldstein was shot in the hands and lost a finger, while Noya Dahan, 8, and her uncle Almog Peretz suffered shrapnel wounds.

Kaye was killed instantly.

The gunman fled when his weapon jammed.

Funeral services for Kaye took place Monday and she was remembered as a woman whose mission was to help others enjoy life.

 

Former Montrealers in California

Among those who frequently attend the San Diego synagogue are the daughter and son-in-law of a Montreal rabbi.

Rabbi Benyamin Bresinger of Chabad Lifeline said he struggled to contact his family after learning of the attack.

"We had to wait a few hours until we were able to connect to my daughter. She assured us she and the children were okay, they weren't in the building, they were just a few hundred feet away from the synagogue. But my son-in-law was there at the time of the shooting. And as soon as the shooting began he ran out right away, ran to his house where his wife and granddaughter were to see that everything was okay," said Bresinger.

The attack in San Diego comes six months after a shooting at a synagogue in Pittsburgh which killed 11 people.

Anti-semitic incidents in the United States took a substantial leap in 2017, and the number of attacks and harassment increased in 2018 although there was a drop in instances of vandalism.

Police arrested 19-year-old John Earnest on Saturday after he fled the synagogue and called 9-1-1.

His friends and family said Earnest became radicalized over the past two years, spending more of his time on websites that welcome racist, sexist, and violent views, where many users celebrate the perpetrators of white nationalist mass murder.

"To our great shame, he is now part of the history of evil that has been perpetrated on Jewish people for centuries," the parents said Monday in their first public comments. "Our son's actions were informed by people we do not know, and ideas we do not hold."

Earnest is also charged with setting fire to a mosque in March in Escondido, California.