Judah and Chaya Cowen had an idea of what they were going to name their daughter, but then, plans changed. On April 27 a gunmen opened fire in the Chabad of Poway synagogue in California; 60-year-old Lori Gilbert-Kaye was killed. In response to the horrific events, the Cowens elected to name their daughter after a woman they never met.
“From what we read about her, Lori was an amazing hero who died al kiddush Hashem (sanctifying his name),” said Judah Cowen.
Gilbert-Kaye’s Hebrew name was Lea. Media reports credited her with jumping in front of the Chabad’s rabbi, Yisroel Goldstein, to shield him from bullets. Gilbert-Kaye, a wife and mother, was also described as a wonderful friend, a woman of valor and hero.
“She touched a lot of souls,” added Cowen.
Noa Lea Cowen has much to live up to, explained her father. Apart from being named after Gilbert-Kaye, Noa Lea shares her name with a significant biblical figure. The Torah recounts how Noa was one of five daughters born to Zelophehad (Numbers 27:1). After Zelophehad died without male heirs to inherit his property, the daughters came before Moses and other arbiters of the law and said, “Why should the name of our father be done away from among his family, because he had no son?”
Moses brought their request for inheritance before the Lord.
The Torah writes, “And the Lord spoke unto Moses, saying: The daughters of Zelophehad speak right: thou shalt surely give them a possession of an inheritance among their father’s brethren; and thou shalt cause the inheritance of their father to pass unto them. And thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel, saying: If a man die, and have no son, then ye shall cause his inheritance to pass unto his daughter.”
Such actions are inspiring, explained Cowen.
“Noa is one of the first feminists referred to in the Torah,” he said.
In the weeks since his daughter’s birth (Noa Lea was born on May 3), Judah Cowen has received multiple requests for interviews and comments. He said he appreciates the attention, but would love the opportunity to share a message with his daughter.
“I hope she can emulate Lori’s traits,” he said. “Any parent would want their daughter to be like Lori, at least I would just from reading about her.” PJC
Adam Reinherz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.