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.
We have lost two beautiful young people today who were the light of the world. They were taken from us but their light will remain lit with us. Rabbi Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg were among the most selfless and righteous people who just made a difference to others. We're all aggrieved today and we're sure G-d will avenge their blood in the time to come. And we also know as we mourn, that the greatest memorial to them is continue their work. This and more Chabad will do!
Well, “Redeemer” is the word used for the Lord G-d of Israel in the Hebrew Bible as well, the G-d who brought His people out of the land of Egypt. Christians take it as a reference to the Messiah, but that was its original meaning.
Anyway, I don’t want to get into Bible interpretation. I think that passage expresses the ultimate hope in times of seeming injustice and despair.
You forgot one:
Blow up the Al Asqa Mosque.
Amen and right on!
Rabbi Yehuda Krinsky at Brooklyn Chabad HQsshalom b'SHEM Yah'shua HaMashiach Adonai
is asking for money to raise Moshe from Mumbai.
I’m not Jewish but I believe that the phrase “May God avenge their blood” is the only appropriate one at the moment.
Very tragic. Islam always seems to kill the good people first - people like this couple, priests saying Mass, nuns teaching - because Islam, unlike Judaism and Christianity, chooses death.
Prayers for these good people, and may life win.
My friend is a Pakistani living in Karachi, and one day while sitting on the steps inside his home, he saw a vision of Jesus. Jesus was standing there with a scroll in his hands, and he pointed to my friend, and said, “I have chosen you”. My friend was a Muslim, but he set out to find out “who is this Jesus?” Needless to say, he found a church and was converted to know the Lord. Yes, he did know of the hatred that Pakistanis have for the Jews, but he came to love the Jews and has been studying Hebrew. My friend risks his life to go to a church, and he went to one who had guards at the door, and the guard asked him questions, and when he told that he did have a Muslim father, they sent him away, but he still fights on at the risk of his life.
Were they Christians? If not, how can you be sure?
“Rabbi Gavriel, Rivka Holtzberg and the others murdered...I heard another Rabbi was killed....
Hashem Yikom Damo.
Proselytizing on a thread like this? Low....
Rabbi Yehuda Krinsky at Brooklyn Chabad HQs
is asking for money to raise Moshe from Mumbai.
Have you sent money yet?
I think you dropped something, Xenia.
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