If you’re feeling heartbroken, angry, or maybe even a bit numb after the terrible attack at the Chabad of Poway in California, there’s a small but powerful way to show solidarity with our fellow Jews, and to honor the victim of the shooting, Lori Gilbert-Kaye.
As Kveller writer Jordana Horn suggests, one of the best things we can do to prevent evil from winning is to be proudly, fiercely Jewish. In that vein, Melissa Weiss, who works for the Simon Wiesenthal Center, launched a simple, powerful initiative to pledge to do two things that were important to Gilbert-Kaye: “light Shabbat candles on Friday night and do something positive for my community.”
60-year-old Gilbert-Kaye, who died shielding her rabbi from the shooter, was, by all accounts, an extraordinary human being.
According to a childhood friend, Gilbert-Kaye was incredibly dedicated to her Jewish community: “If someone was sick or someone died, she was the first one there with food or asking what she could do.” She almost always hosted people for Shabbat dinner, treating her guests to fresh, homemade challah.
Her daughter, 22-year-old Hannah Kaye, said that for her mother, “Judaism was also about who you are as a person, how you treated others, how you respected and showed loving kindness to all people. My mother lived her life this way.”
So, whether lighting Shabbat candles is a regular Friday night ritual in your home, or if your Shabbat candles are collecting dust somewhere (um, guilty as charged), this coming Friday, you can light Shabbat candles in Gilbert-Kaye’s honor.
And you don’t have to stop here. You also do something kind for your community: donate money to an organization that does important work, volunteer at a local shelter or school, or even at your local synagogue. You can host people for a Shabbat meal, deliver food to anyone who is sick or struggling, or offer support and a listening ear. Whatever giving to your community means to you.
If you’d like to join the initiative, it’s super simple: Just add your name to this spreadsheet, and spread the word with hashtag #LightforLori.
This Shabbat, in Gilbert-Kaye’s memory, let us light the world with our candles and with kindness.