Lori Gilbert Kaye, the 60-year old woman who was killed in the Chabad of Poway synagogue near San Diego, California, threw herself in path of the shooter's bullets, a report by The Guardian says.
Naftali Bennett, Israel's Education Minister and Diaspora Affairs Minister, has called Kaye "a Jewish hero," saying she put herself "in the path of the murderer's bullets to save the life of the rabbi".
The mayor of Poway, Steve Vaus, confirmed the synagogue congregation engaged the shooter.
"Those brave people certainly prevented this from being a much worse tragedy," he said.
The rabbi, Yisrael Goldstein, who sustained hand injuries from the attack, said that Kaye "took the bullet for all of us."
Ariella Lee, a close friend of Kaye described her to the Guardian: "She would feed us. She would bring over gifts. I'm sure every single member of my family right now is wearing something that she gave us. She was generous and loving and I hope that we can all be like her because she's absolutely one of a kind. Words cannot say how wonderful of a person she is."
The police detained a 19-year old shooter, John Earnest, who may be charged with hate crimes as well as homicide. He is also being investigated in connection with an arson attack on a mosque in the nearby city of Escondido in March, a Guardian report says.
According to the police, the shooter's AR-15 rifle could have jammed during the assault, which prevented more casualties.
Speaking about the ordeal, Rabbi Goldstein said the weapon jammed "miraculously."
"I couldn't see his eyes. I couldn't see his soul," Goldstein said. He raised his hands to protect himself and lost one of his fingers in the shooting. And then, he says, "miraculously the gun jammed."
Before the attack, the shooter posted an online open letter saying he was motivated by the deadly attack on two mosques in New Zealand last month, in which a 28-year-old Australian man killed 50 Muslims and injured 50 more.