Skip to comments.UPDATE: Mumbai-Based Rabbi and Wife Killed in Terrorist Attacks
Posted on 11/28/2008 9:43:39 AM PST by Alouette
Rabbi Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg, the beloved directors of Chabad-Lubavitch of Mumbai, were killed during one of the worst terrorist attacks to strike India in recent memory.
Jewish communities around the world reacted with shock to the loss of the couple, who were killed Thursday at their Chabad House during an apparent standoff between Indian military forces and terrorists.
Their toddler son, Moshe, managed to escape with his nanny some hours before Indian commandos stormed their building, known as the Nariman House, in the popular touristy neighborhood of Colaba. The Associated Press reported that the boy was unharmed, but was wearing blood-soaked pants.
"Gabi and Rivky Holtzberg made the ultimate sacrifice," said Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky, vice chairman of Merkos L'Inyonei Chinuch, the educational arm of Chabad-Lubavitch. "As emissaries to Mumbai, Gabi and Rivky gave up the comforts of the West in order to spread Jewish pride in a corner of the world that was a frequent stop for throngs of Israeli tourists. Their Chabad House was popular among the local community, as well as with visiting businesspeople.
"For five years, they ran a synagogue and Torah classes, and helped people dealing with drug addiction and poverty," continued the statement. "Their selfless love will live on with all the people they touched. We will continue the work they started."
The Holtzbergs arrived in Mumbai in 2003 to serve the small local Jewish community, visiting businesspeople and the throngs of tourists, many of them Israeli, who annually travel to the seaside city.
Gavriel Holtzberg, 29, was born in Israel and moved to the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn, N.Y., with his parents, when he was nine. A prodigious student, Holtzberg was a two-time champion in a competition of memorizing the Mishnah, a compendium of rabbinical laws and enactments redacted in the second century C.E.
He studied at yeshivas in New York and Argentina, and as a rabbinical student served communities in Thailand and China under the Summer Rabbinical Visitation Program run by Merkos LInyonei Chinuch, the educational arm of Chabad-Lubavitch.
His 28-year-old wife, born Rivkah Rosenberg, is a native of Afula, Israel. Chayki Rosenberg described her sister as dedicated to helping Jews.
She gives lots of classes for women at the Chabad House, Rosenberg told The Jerusalem Post.
Friends described her as always having a positive outlook and a kind word for everyone.
Two years ago, the Holtzbergs raised funds to purchase the current location of the Chabad House, a five-story building in Mumbais Colaba market area known as Narimon House. A trained ritual circumciser and slaughterer, the rabbi also conducted weddings for local Jewish couples in addition to teaching Torah classes and visiting with tourists.
His last known phone call was to the Israeli Consulate to report that gunmen were in his house. In the middle of the conversation, the line went dead.
The Holtzbergs joined the more than 125 people who were killed in the Wednesday night through Friday attacks, which saw dozens of suspected Islamic terrorists come ashore in Mumbai near the Gateway of India monument. The terrorists, carrying assault rifles and grenades, quickly fanned out to a central train station, the Chabad House and other tourist locations, including several popular hotels.
According to security services, the Chabad House was a pre-selected target.
A team of 15 Chabad-Lubavitch representatives in California, New York, Washington, Israel, India and Bangkok worked the phones throughout the crisis, spending long, sleepless nights awaiting any morsel of information and working to confirm at-times conflicting reports from the field. Hundreds of thousands of Jews around the world prayed for the Holtzbergs, saying Psalms in their merit.
The local police in Mumbai and the highest reaches of the Indian government got involved, but military assault teams first concentrated their efforts on the Taj Mahal and Oberoi hotels, where hundreds of foreign tourists were either holed up or being held hostage. When they finally entered the Chabad House on Friday, they found that the worst had occured.
Rivky Holtzberg's parents, Rabbi Shimon and Yehudit Rosenberg arrived in Mumbai early Friday morning to bring their now-orphaned grandson home to family.
To contribute to a fund established to aid relief efforts in Mumbai, go to www.ChabadIndia.org.
This story will be updated as new information becomes available.
A press comference will be given by Rabbi Yehuda Krinsky, chairman of the Educational and Social Services arms of the Chabad-Lubavitch Movement at 12:30pm at the Jewish Children's Museum, 792 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn, NY.
Yes, Chabad-Lubavitch is a Hasidic group that has a very large outreach movement, where they try to bring in Jews who may have fallen away or just aren’t familiar with their faith. They have Chabad houses (like the one mentioned above) in nearly every country, even if there are little to no Jews who live in that country.
I’m sure someone else could answer that question better than I could, but that’s what I got.
Great organization. Rabbi Eckstein is a righteous man.
I think a billion indians are angry very angry. Heard demonstrations are already started.
its Obama time.
Thank you Jewish libs.
I’m guessing the Rabbi was part of the large Lubavitch sect of Hassidic Jews from the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn.
The Hassidic Jews are one of the few good things left from old New York City.
Thanks for the photo. A beautiful couple. I was afraid this would happen. Typically these terrorists would rather die than miss the opportunity to kill Jews, who in this case they had obviously targeted. They probably didn’t even wait for the commando raid.
Oh that my words were now written! oh that they were printed in a book!
That they were graven with an iron pen and lead in the rock for ever!
For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth:
And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God:
Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me.
I am strengthened by that verseshalom b'SHEM Yah'shua HaMashiach Adonai
in Job, the oldest book in the Tanach.
It describes Yah'shua
“GOD may not, but Im SURE that Mossad is looking in to it.
“Vengeance is Mine. I will repay,” says the Lord. (Rom. 12:19)
Got to subtract the Muslims and the Libtards from that number. The Muslims are quietly savoring the "jihad" even if they say otherwise in public. The Libtards, zillions of them everywhere, are already wailing about all that "we" did to deserve it, blaming Bush, wondering how to grovel better before the jihad onslaught, etc. We had a preview of this here in the states with the loathsome, imbecilic remarks of Deepak Chopra on CNN.
I'm sure that hundreds of millions of Indians are very angry, but not all.... far from all.
It was only a matter of time before the muzzies pished off a non-Western people who aren't burdened down with PC guilt. Well, Communist China is cracking down on them too, but they're Commies, and Commies always get away with stuff other people can't.
I am convinced that Deepak Chopra is an idiot after hearing him on CNN.
How can anyone follow this ridiculous charlatan?
“They probably didnt even wait for the commando raid.”
The nanny (I had also heard “cook” - probably the same person) that got their child out had said that the mom and dad were “unconcious”. Seeing as how all the other places were just shot up quite quickly I imagine that was the case here as well.
Already on the news I have seen the hand-wringing of reporters “The commando raid seems to put the hostages in more danger...”, etc.
Unbelievably, a BBC program on my local NPR station did about 15 minutes how response to these sorts of attacks ‘alienates’ Muslim youth in India.
My sympathies to you, Alouette, and to all observant Jews all over the world who have been hit by this awful tragedy.
Be strong; be resolute.
That is just nonsense. These terrorists were shooting people first and thinking second. They expected to die. They shot the guy who brought them water at the hospital, and they have shot people randomly all over the place.
The commandos did the right thing. It’s just a terrible thing that happened—and frankly that has been happening, more often than not, ever since Mohammed started teaching his followers how to be conquering bullies.