Lori Gilbert Kaye, 60, was murdered when a 19-year-old gunman opened fire at a synagogue in Poway near San Diego, California.
Kaye was shot at close range on Shabbat – the last day of Passover – while attempting to save Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, 57, who sustained defensive wounds to his hand.
According to Buzzfeed News, Goldstein told Roneet Lev, a synagogue member and Kaye's longtime friend, that the martyr saved his life.
Goldstein, who sustained gunshot wounds to two fingers and is likely to lose one of them, told CNN's Brian Stelter on Sunday:
"In my own interpretation, Lori took the bullet for all of us. She died to protect all of us."
Kaye's close friend Audrey Jacobs celebrated her in a Facebook post, calling Kaye "a jewel of our community, a true eshet chayil – a woman of valor."
"You were always running to do a mitzvah (good deed) and gave tzedaka (charity) to everyone," said Jacobs.
Kaye attended the synagogue on Saturday to recite Yizkor, a memorial prayer for deceased relatives, for her mother who died in November.
Kaye's husband is a doctor and rushed to the scene to perform CPR after hearing about the shooting. According to Jacob's, he fainted after hearing that his wife was among the victims.
Tributes began pouring in for Kaye, who is being hailed as a hero.
Los Angeles-based non-profit group, Stand With Us, offered their sympathies.
The shooting was a deliberate attack on the Jewish community.
After Goldstein was released from the hospital after his surgery on Sunday, he told the Today Show about his 30-year friendship with Kaye.
"I started this congregation 35 years ago from the ground up...Lori was the one who helped me secure a construction loan. And she's been a steadfast member, supporter, and philanthropist. Just a kind soul. Everyone in the community knew her."
He added that the Jewish community will refuse to be intimidated by antisemitism.
"I guarantee you, we will not be intimidated or deterred by this terror. Terror will not win. As Americans, we can't cower in the face of this senseless hate that is antisemitism."
Noya Dahan, 8, and her uncle, Almog Peretz, 34, survived their injuries from the shooting and were released from the hospital.
Peretz also helped save lives that day. He helped usher the children out through the exit and sustained shots to his leg, according to a witness.
"He grabbed all the kids in his hands and was just running towards the exit (when) he saw another kid over there," a witness told Fox 5.
"He grabbed him and started running and (that's when) the shooter shot him in the leg. He didn't care. He kept on running with the kids and just ran out."
Kaye died from her injuries shortly after the shooting and leaves behind a loving husband and a 22-year-old daughter.
A vigil at Rancho Bernardo Community Presbyterian Church brought together people of many faiths in solidarity to pay their respects for Kaye and the other victims.