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.
Warning! This is a high-volume ping list.
Sad.Thankfully the child was saved.
I’m heartbroken. Although it seemed against the odds, I had hoped the outcome would be different. More outreach from the RoP.
Its the religion of peace.
Jewish women: light Sabbath candles tonight, and every Friday night. Bake challah.
Jewish men: put on tefillin
Everyone (Jews and non-Jews): donate charity to a worthy cause. Set aside some time for prayer, meditation, and Bible study. Perform a random act of kindness. Hug your family and tell them how much you love them. Send thank-you notes to our troops.
i'm hearing at this very moment that the toddler turns 2 years old tomorrow
Sadness and Im sorry to say the response from the passivist “doves” on the left is going to be inadequate to fight the ongoing war on terror.
I thought they survived last night Alouette but I have go to bed that soo sad POOR BABYYYYY
may G-d avenge their blood.
“may G-d avenge their blood”
GOD may not, but I’m SURE that Mossad is looking in to it.
Brokenhearted prayers for all who suffered at the hands of madmen.
the Mossad needs G-d’s help. Sometimes it is not always granted
I’ve been praying a Rosary Novena for Israel for the past eight days. I will add my prayers to that Novena for the Holtzberg’s, their orphaned son and their families. I will also add my prayers to ask for blessings for Chabad, who must be devastated at the evil murder of such a fine young couple. May the Lord bless the souls of Rabbi Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg.
I would expect the Indians, due to proximity, their numbers of dead and wounded, and availability of manpower, to carry most of the load, but we the US should watch their back as required.
Remind me again how we managed to get a presumptive President elect with the middle name of Hussein??
Prayers for the families of Gabi and Rivki.shalom b'SHEM Yah'shua HaMashiach Adonai
Ironic that the young boy, their son,
who escaped was named Moshe.
Gabi and Rivki were serving HaShem
and I'm sure they will know His salvation.
Two other American Jews were killed in a Cafe,
they were followers of New Age.
G-d is the supreme judge. May the rest in peace.
I saw on jpost.com that there are 17 Israelis unaccounted for in Mumbai. I’ve also heard that Israeli special forces will be sent there to aid in the rescue.
May the fruits of the holy peaceful work of Rabbi Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg continue to redouble for goodness and peace in this world.