Sunday, November 30, 2008

A Tribute For The Ages

By Dr. Isaac Balbin of Melbourne, Australia.





















16 comments:

Arthur said...

In a message dated 11/29/08 22:09:55 Eastern Standard Time, shuarosenstein
writes:
Hi Rabbi,
I really appreciate your e-mail and offer for support. I know that I only knew
the Holtzbergs for a couple of days but I feel totally overwhelmed by what has
happened. Its almost surreal at this point, just totally upsetting. I can hardly
believe only three months ago I was eating in their home. I guess I'm surprised
something like this doesn't totally shatter your faith. I'm struggling to try
and explain and justify this. Of all the people in the entire world, werent Gabi
and Rivky among the most righteous? Doesn't make any sense to me. My faith is
faltering.

I am attaching something I wrote for the Holtzberg's families. If you think I
should revise or expand some part, please let me know...

ugh, its hard to try and describe something like this. I hope they really really
understand what a tremendous impact they've had on so many people. I've always
been in awe of Chabad. Ever since I became=2
0close with the Novacks at Washington
University. Its so strange to me- you guys basically devote your lives to
serving people that pass through your doors. we are almost totally transitory.
people come to your table, eat your food. and then are gone, hopefully taking
with them some desire to continue having shabbat meals, lighting candles, etc.
But I think you oftentimes dont get to see our gratitude...

Thanks Shua.


To the families of Gavriel and Rivky Holtzberg:


I am one of the Jewish tourists that Gabi and Rivky made it their life9s work to
welcome and assist in India. While I was traveling in Mumbai in August of this
year, I found a warm and happy refuge in the Chabad house. I was traveling
alone for half of my trip and I was incredibly grateful to be able to spend
several hours with other Jews and enjoy a kosher meal. I remember eating dinner
with Rivky, sharing stories and practicing my Hebrew, and playing with Moshe.



When I left their home, I remember I experienced a little shock because of the
contrast between the strange streets of Mumbai and the warmth, familiarity and
comfort I had just left behind. Religion is everywhere in India- the cities are
filled with temples, statues and almost daily festivals celebrating Hinduism,
Sikhism, Christianity and Islam. The time I spent with the Holtzbergs and with
Mumbai’s strong Jewish community was=2
0an incredibly powerful experience. I felt
so much pride to be Jewish in this country with citizens of faiths so different
from my own.


When my friend from New York arrived the following day, I brought her back with
me to meet the Holtzbergs. Again, we were welcomed like family and made to feel
at home. The Rabbi even gave us some guidance on how to structure the remainder
of our trip through Northern India and observe Shabbat while traveling.


After having spent a month in India, I realize it is no small sacrifice to leave
your family behind, move to a foreign country less suited for living an=2
0observant lifestyle, and build a home open entirely to serve the needs of
others. I have utmost gratitude and respect for the work that Chabad Shluchim
do in India and around the world. I wanted you to know how Gabi and Rivky were
able to touch my life and that I am grieving with you.


Baruch dayan emes,

zalman said...

Thanks for posting this very warm article. (I believe that you are missing page 8).

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this. Page 8 is missing.

Hirshel Tzig said...

It's since been corrected. Thanks for the "heads up" guys.

Anonymous said...

A most enjoyable piece.

I'd just like to add:
R' Isaac brought a mayseh about the ill chosid of the Rebbe Maharash, who was miraculously cured in the Mikvah -- which I had recently read in a "Yiddishe Heim" (English side), from 5750 l'erech.
Wherein, R' Leibel Posner (zol zein gezunt) recounts that he personally heard it (when growing up in Chicago of the 1930s) from a local "Chabad'ske" yid who had indeed witnessed it in Lubavitch sheb'Lubavitch.

Chaim Berlin tragedy said...

Why does it take REAL tragedies for people and groups to praise and recognize each other? But that is the way of the world it seems.

Even Aish haTorah has an excellent article at http://www.aish.com/jewishissues/jewishsociety/Tragedy_in_Mumbai.asp

Tragedy in Mumbai

by Rabbi Dr. Daniel P. Aldrich

Words may fail us, but actions cannot.

At times like this, words fail us. We are struck silent by the sheer barbarism and scope of the tragedy: the cold blooded murder of Rabbi Gavriel and Rivkah Holtzberg -- a young couple who left behind all of the creature comforts of life in the West to go and help other Jews -- four other Jews shot dead inside the Chabad House, another 169 people killed, and 240 wounded.

I personally benefited from the self-sacrifice of the Holtzbergs. In 2003, they moved to Mumbai, giving up the comforts of the West in order to spread some light in one corner of the world. They purchased and renovated the building formerly known as the Nariman House into a beautiful five-story hotel, full of rooms for guests, dining rooms, and large pantries to hold all the kosher foodstuffs necessary to feed the multitude of visitors each week. The Chabad House was a glowing beacon of holiness in a city filled with poverty and starvation.

A few months ago, I left my family behind to travel to India to carry out fieldwork and research. Long before I stepped onto the airplane, I knew I'd be in good hands -- friends contacted the Holtzbergs to ensure that I would have a place to connect with other Jews, pray, and have a warm, home-cooked meal.

During my month-long stay in India, I met Sandra Samuel, the helper and nanny for the Chabad in Mumbai for several years. Sandra overcame the natural instinct of self preservation and re-entered an upper floor of the Chabad House to rescue Moshe, the Holtzberg's 2-year-old son. She later recalled, "I just grabbed the baby and ran out."

The baby became an orphan in blood-soaked clothes.

I doubt that many of us would be able to look past our own selfish desire to save ourselves and put ourselves in harm's way. She is one of no doubt many quiet heroes who have emerged at these horrendous times.

Every night that I visited the Chabad House, the place was packed with Jews from around the world who had come to Mumbai. Some were Israelis looking for a chance to relax after an intense tour in the Israeli army; others were businessmen seeking to cut deals with the well-known textile merchants nearby. Some were tourists looking to experience the local Indian Jewish community known as the Bnei Israel. The Holtzbergs made sure that all of us felt welcomed and comfortable.

Rabbi Holtzberg was a Torah scholar and trained as a mohel and shochet. Together with his wife they ran a synagogue, taught Torah classes, counseled drug addicts, and fought the poverty they saw all around.

Most of all, they helped us to feel Jewish. Even those soldiers who had long ago stopped attending synagogue wiped back a tear as we sang "Shalom Aleichem" around the Shabbat table.

Moving Forward

This is not the first time that a Chabad rabbi has been cut down by a terrorist. Back in the 1950s, a rabbi and four students were killed in the Israeli village known as Kfar Chabad. These residents had arrived from Europe, leaving a land decimated by the Holocaust to rebuild a new Jewish society in the miniscule land of Israel. After their death, many of their friends felt the hopelessness and despair we feel now.

It is said that the Lubavitcher Rebbe sent a telegram to the survivors of the attack that had only three Hebrew words: B'hemshech habinyan tenu'chamu -- "You will feel comfort through continuing to build."

And that is the message for us today: Continue to build. Do not give up. Do not let hate or a desire for vengeance blind us to the positive impact that all of us can have.

Because if we become afraid, immobilized, hesitant, then we've handed the terrorists a victory.

Words may fail us, but actions cannot. The Jewish community has already come together over this issue; thousands of emails, blogs, and websites have called upon Jews around the world to say Psalms, give charity, and do acts of kindness. On online bulletin boards where tempers can too often flare, arguments were quickly shelved and cooperation ensued.

We can all put our grief, our disbelief, our desire to do something into action -- and we must do it quickly. Send money to a Jewish cause. Spend some time telling your parents, children, and friends how much you love them and care for them. See what positive things you can do for an ailing neighbor or a depressed friend.

We are at war with many enemies, those who seek to turn our planet to darkness. The Holtzberg's were on the front lines of dispelling that darkness, putting the beauty of Judaism against loneliness and despair. For many of the backpackers and visitors, coming into contact with the joy and love extended by Rabbi Gavriel and Rivkah Holtzberg gave them their chance to embrace their Jewish heritage.

They were struck down in the line of duty. So in their memory, learn about the beautiful Jewish heritage they sought to spread. And share it with others.

Author Biography:

Rabbi Dr. Daniel P. Aldrich received his semicha from Rav Dan Channen, shlita and he is a alumnus of the Darche Noam Yeshiva of Jerusalem. After his house was destroyed in Hurricane Katrina, he and his family spent a year living in East Asia. He currently lives with his family in West Lafayette, Indiana where he and his wife Yael work to spread the love of Torah among Purdue University students and the community.

Anonymous said...

To Anonymous 12:07 -

In line with R' Leibel Posner's mayse, I presume the story R' Isaac said b'shem R' Gavriel HY"D, that he heard the story from an eyewitness - must be revised, to be read as "SOMEONE WHO HEARD FROM AN EYEWITNESS."

It's impossible that R' Gavriel HY"D heard it from a chossid of the Rebbe Maharash, factually speaking.

Arthur said...

From: Batya Rotter
[mailto:batya.rotter@gmail.com]
Sent: Monday, December 01, 2008 8:11
AM
Subject: In memory of Rabbi Gabi and Rivki


I couldn't sleep tonight, in pain from the events of this past week. I
wanted to write to remember Rabbi Gabi and Rivki Holzberg Z''L, who were
murdered in Bombay; they were two of the finest people I know.

_________________________________________________

Tonight I dreamed I went to the Beit Chabad in Mumbai. Passing the
vendors on the street, and the sounds of the flour mill across the alley way, I
walked into the main floor and smelled the aromas of freshly made chumus and
matbucha. The Chabad house in Bombay was a Jewish oasis, where there
was always air conditioning, a smile, and a freshly cooked meal. It was a
beautiful chabad house, and it was run by the most beautiful people...... I
start to think of Rivki— and
then, I start to cry.

I see Rivki's face, and even her thick glasses can't
hide the glowing happiness in her eyes. From the bump on her stomach you can see

that she is expecting, and after losing one child to illness and another to
severe congenital defects, you see her stomach and want to smile too. She is the

embodiment o
f hope and faith—when you sit on the couch in the main room, she
brings you some chocolate cake and wants to know how you are doing. And
while you vent about your trials from the week, she has somehow managed to take
you away from the streets of Bombay to another place entirely. I remember at
first being surprised to learn that Rivki was only three years older than me.
She had a clarity of purpose and a purity of faith that you do not find often.
While there are times when I think of her as a friend, there are also times when

that title seems too commonplace. She is more than a friend—she is a role
model, a vision of fortitude and courage, and a soul too precious for this
world.

I honestly don't know how Gabi and Rivki built the chabad house from
nothing, and how they brought the taste of a Jewish traditional home to the
crazy streets of Bombay, putting their own personal pain aside to build a home
for others. They managed to make a wedding for a traveling couple who suddenly
learned they were expecting a child, and made court visits for Israelis stuck in

jail for drug trafficking. Every week, there was a beautiful Shabbat meal for
anyone and everyone to join, and every night at 8pm, there was a free kosher
dinner for anyone traveling and in need of soul food. I remember the excitement
Rivki exhibited when she showed me the board on the wall that mapped the p
lans
and financial progress of their new chabad house. They had been operating out of

two floors in the building, but had a dream to furnish and use the other five
floors as a guest house, Jewish library, and child care center. You see, Gabi
and Rivki had dreams—not to live in a quiet house near their families, but to
build where Jews could be Jewish in India.

I found out that Bombay was burning on Thursday morning--Thanksgiving
morning-- the same morning that I woke up in Israel to go with my sister to the
kotel on her wedding day. I read the headlines, and then I read about the
Chabad house. My sister, the bride, not knowing that any of this had taken
place, had a glowing happiness in her eyes, while I was feeling something akin
to an out-of- body experience. We made it to the kotel, where I went off to the
side to call Antony, my boss from India, who confirmed that the situation did
not look good. The home where I was a frequent visitor, where I got
my chickens to make chicken soup, and where I would eat chocolate cake and
talk with Rivki, was being held by terrorist. TERRORISTS! I thought about Gabi,
and I thought about Rivki-- and that is when I lost it.

How does one deal with a wedding and a terrorist attack on the same day--
both so close to home? I'm looking
back at the last couple of days, and I still don't believe that any of this is
not20a dream. While my sister and her husband began a journey of love and
commitment, the couple who knew a love and a commitment to a calling beyond
themselves were under attack. And while Yael Rotter and Jon Mosery stood under
the Chuppah, overlooking the hills of Jerusalem, Rabbi Gavriel Hotlzberg looked
at carnage as he covered his beloved Rivka in a talit before joining her
in, what I must force myself to believe is, a better place. I only hope that
just as in the heart of their wedding joy, Yael and John broke a glass to
remember destruction and suffering, that somehow, amidst the pain of shattered
dreams, Gabi and Rivki found a way to feel some joy that their healthy Moishe
survived.

To all my Bombay family, all of whom felt the surrogate parenting of Gabi
and Rivki, I am sending hugs and love, even though my heart is a little broken.
And to all of you reading this email,
I ask that you do something good—something so kind, so good, and so loving, that

it can in some way make the world hurt less. Because, little Moishe should not
know the
hate-filled world that his parents were murdered in. And because our broken
hearts and the courtyards of
Jerusalem should only be filled with voices of joy and happiness,
voices of brides and grooms.

Baruch Dayan Haemet.
May their memory be blessed

Arthur said...

Rabbi,



I wanted to forward this along to you. This was written by the mother of my
good friend who had the privilege of spending time with Rabbi Holtzberg and
his family in Mumbai. It not only speaks to what wonderful people the
Holtzbergs were, but to the importance of Chabad.

Whether you are a jewish law student in Salem or an israeli who just
finished serving a sentence in an indian prison (see below), Chabad is there
for you...



Neal



____________________________________

From: "Hillary Lewin"

Date: Sun, 30 Nov 2008 22:46:

Subject: In Memory of Gavriel and Rivky Holtzberg



Many of you first heard of the Holtzberg family three days ago when news of
the Mumbai hostage situation emerged. I feel compelled to write this letter,
because I want the world to know who Rivky and Gabi Holtzberg were in life
and to tell you what I witnessed of their accomplishments in their brief 28
years on earth. While I am devastated by their death, I am thankful that my
life and so many others were touched by their purity, friendship and spirit.



Before I entered the Chabad house in Mumbai, I thought, "What kind of people
would leave a comfortable and secure life in a religious community to live
in the middle of Mumbai; a dirty, difficult, crowded city?" As I got to know
Rivky and Gabi over the course of this past summer, I understood that G-d
creates some truly special people willing to devote their lives to bettering
the world.



I was first welcomed by Rivky, who had a big smile on her face and her baby
Moishie in her arms. She ushered me and my fellow travelers into the Chabad
house and immediately offered us something to eat and a sofa to rest on. We
quickly became good friends. We bonded with the Holtzberg family and the
staff at Chabad, including Sandra, the heroine who saved baby Moishie's
life.



Like his parents, Moishe is a sweet, loving, happy baby. He was so attached
to Rivky and Gabi. He got so excited to sing Shabbat Z'mirot

(songs) every Friday night with his father, and I could tell by the light on
Gabi's face when they were singing together, that he looked forward to it
too. It breaks my heart that I can still hear Moishie's voice calling, "Ima,
Ima, Ima", and she will no longer be able to hold him or rock him in her
arms.



On my second Shabbat at Chabad, Rivky told me there were two Israeli men
staying at the house who were just released from an Indian prison.

When I saw these men sitting at the dinner table, I was startled. One man
had only a front tooth and a raggedy pony tail, and the other looked like an
Israeli version of Rambo. I observed the way that Gabi interacted with them
and how they were welcomed at the Shabbat table the same way everyone else
was, and my fears melted away. Over the course of the night, I learned that
these men were not the only prisoners or ex-convicts the Holtzberg's helped.
Gabi frequently brought Kosher meals to Israelis in prison, spent time with
them, listened to their life stories, and took them in after their release.



I realized that Gabi and Rivky's job was not only to run a Chabad house and
provide warm meals and beds for weary Jewish travelers, it was much greater.
The Holtzberg's were running a remarkable operation.

They took their jobs as shlichim (emissaries) very seriously. Their lives
never stopped. There was no such thing as "personal space" or "downtime".
The phones rang constantly, people came in and out like a subway station,
and all the while Rivky and Gabi were calm, smiling, warm, and welcomed
everyone like family.



Rivky spent each day cooking dinner with the chefs for 20-40 people, while
Gabi made sure to provide meat for everyone by going to the local markets
and schechting (koshering) them himself. They also provided travelers with
computers for internet access, so that they wouldn't have to pay for
internet cafes. They even took care of our laundry. Having spent much time
abroad, it was clear to me that Rivky and Gabi were unusual tzadikim
(righteous people).



On my last Shabbat in India, I slept in Rivky and Gabi's home, the 5th floor
of the Chabad house. I noticed that their apartment was dilapidated and
bare. They had only a sofa, a bookshelf, a bedroom for Moishie, and a
bedroom to sleep in. The paint peeled from the walls, and there were hardly
any decorations. Yet, the guest quarters on the two floors below were
decorated exquisitely, with American-style beds, expansive bathrooms, air
conditioning (a luxury in India) and marble floors. We called these rooms
our "healing rooms" because life was so difficult in Mumbai during the week.
We knew that when we came to Chabad, Rivky and Gabi would take care of us
just like our parents, and their openness and kindness would rejuvenate us
for the week to come.



The juxtaposition of their home to the guest rooms was just another example
of what selfless, humble people Rivky and Gabi were. They were more
concerned about the comfort of their guests than their own.



The Holtzberg's Shabbat table was a new experience each week.

Backpackers, businessmen, diplomats and diamond dealers gathered together to
connect with their heritage in an . We always knew we were in for a
surprise where an amazing story would be told, either by Gabi or a guest at
the table. For each meal, Gabi prepared about seven different divrei torah
(words of torah) to share. Though most of them were delivered in Hebrew (and
I caught about 25%), his wisdom, knowledge and ability to inspire amazed me.
Rivky and Gabi were accepting of everyone who walked through their doors,
and they had no hidden agendas. Rivky once told me that there was one
holiday where they had no guests. It was just herself, Gabi and Moishie. I
expected her to say how relieved she was not to have guests, but she told me
it was, in fact, the only lonely holiday they ever spent in India.



I remember asking Gabi if he was afraid of potential terror threats.

Although his demeanor was so sweet and gentle, Gabi was also very
strong-minded and determined. He told me simply and sharply that if the
terrorists were to come, "be my guest, because I'm not leaving this place."
Both he and Rivky believed that their mission in Mumbai was far greater than
any potential terror threats.



Everything Rivky and Gabi did came from their dedication, love and
commitment to the Jewish people and to G-d. I cannot portray in words how
remarkable this couple was. If there is anything practical that I can
suggest in order to elevate their souls, please try to light candles this
Friday night for Shabbat, improve relationships with family members and
friends, try to connect to others the way that Rivky and Gabi did- with
love, acceptance and open arms. There is so much to learn from them. May
their names and influence live on, and inspire us in acts of kindness and
love.



Sincerely,



Hillary

Arthur said...

These Heilege Tayere neshomos must have been Tzadikim Gemurim.Every time I read one of these stories I can't help but weep

Here is a beautiful article that a friend of mine wrote about Gabi & Rivka
Holtzberg. This individual lived in Mumbai for 14 months and spent a lot of
time with Gabi. I remember him telling me years ago that he puts on teffilin
since Gabi got him to commit to doing it in the Zechus of his daughter.


I will never forget my experience in Mumbai and my friends Rabbi Gabriel and
Rivki Holtzberg. In September 2004 I arrived in Mumbai on a work assignment
and in the 14 months that followed until I left Mumbai, I was to experience
the special warmth of the downtown Mumbai community, both the Holtzbergs in
the chabad lubavitch and the sefardi synagogue (the Sassoon synagogue in Fort)
led by Mr. Sofer.

My first encounter with the Mumbai lubavitch was around the time of the
Haggim and in particular breaking the fast on Yom Kippur 5765. I remember very
well the rabbi`s apartment with the glow of some 15 jewish souls, a mix of
american AJWS volunteers, Israeli travellers and businessmen. This was a bright

spot in the middle of the Mumbai `darkness`. One of Rabbi Gavriel`s
trademarks was that each person around the table had to say a few words: it
could be
either about what they are doing and what brought them there, sing a song, or
tell a story or do a "Le Chayim" about one of the things that inspired them
in the past or something interesting that happened, or talk about the parasha
and how it relates to something in everyday life. Everyone said their part
and this, week-in week-out typified Rabbi Gabriel`s personable nature and
became a trademark that meant that those people who had been there more than
once
could not just opt for the simple "who they were etc", and instead were
probably challenged in silence of a shabbas table. It also helped integration
where half the people at the table were speaking ivrit and the other half in
english.

The lubavitch in Mumbai led by Gavriel and Rivki was a focal point for
bringing together young israeli travellers post-army, israeli diamond dealers,
armerican peace corps and AJWS volunteers, older european, american, south
african or australian tourists, expatriates who were living in Mumbai, Indian
B'nei israel jews or in fact any jew who happened to be passing through
regardless of their background. Friday night regularly attracted 30 or 40
people.
Rabbi Gavriel and Rivki`s set-up was an example to the world... and this was
only possible because of Rabbi Gavriel and Rivki and their love and devotion to

reaching out to a jewish soul wherever there was one.. Gavriel and Rivki
always made a fabringen with love and joy, gathering together jews in Mumbai.
The
more the better. The hard work and organization to bring this about was
remarkable. We must not forget that the rabbi would personally shochet and
kasher
tens of chickens each week from the local market !

In general we didn't have shabbat morning minyan in the lubavitch but we all
used to go to the Sassoon sefardi synagogue. I remember after services more
than half a dozen of us would walk back with the rabbi to his apartment (the
chabad-lubavitch house) for kiddush and lunch and we used to always pass
through the Taj Mahal hotel (the victorian hotel that also was held hostage).
We
would walk through the lobby and Rabbi Gavriel would sometimes stop to talk
to anyone that had the possibility of being jewish so that they could join on
the band and come for kiddish. Very occasionally our band would increase in
number...

During these years India became one of the tigers of the emerging markets
and had become a popular place for jews to stop by, and sometimes stay longer
than first planned... It should also be remembered that India`s Hindu culture,
one of pacifism, respect and promotion of religious beliefs and values that
were not their own meant that conditions became even more fertile for the
young chabad lubavitch of Mumbai to flourish...there was a lot of optimism
during these times... India was surely a strategic place for us to be in the
midst of the `darkness` that represent the nations that surrounded us..

Both the Rabbi and Rivki would do charitable deeds in the local communities.
They would also take in the local Bnei Yisroel Indian jewish kids and teach
them torah and mitzvot. Rabbi Gabriel Holtzberg was quick to the scene to
save Israeli travellers on one of the islands off India during the Tsunami in
December 2004 where the water had risen to a level where it almost covered all
life.. Rabbi Gabriel, at 25 or 26 when I knew him was a very mature head on
young shoulders..

Everything was possible with Rabbi Gavriel and Rivki, thanks to their
wonderful optimism in the face of the adversity of India`s day-to-day life,
thanks
to their love of life and energy, their consideration of others and their
selfless work, and thanks to their remarkable leadership. In those days the
chabad house was a rooftop terrace apartment (different from the present
location), the top apartment of a downtown hotel, decorated with tropical
plants and
open to the heavens, with one of the best views onto the Arabian sea. It was
completely conspicuous to the outside world. Somehow we all felt safe in
this special place...

Gavriel and Rivki were true tzaddicks. And this is made all the more
remarkable for their firstborn child. I remember agreeing with Rabbi Gavriel
that we
should all put on tefilin every day until his child recovers. To this day I
wait for him to tell me to stop.......
They were a real inspiration to all that passed through, a glow to the
shabbas table, with a lot of laughter, le chayim and joy.

Their loss is painful and is bitter and tragic for us all. And so is the
loss of life of the other jews, and other innocent people in Mumbai.

May their souls be blessed in peace

May we take Gavriel and Rivki Holtzberg's example and together make the
world a better place

Raphael Altman

Isaac Balbin said...

Please note: I wrote :

"The story, which Reb Gavriel used to say he heard
from someone who heard it directly from an elderly man who had witnessed
it"

That is, Reb Gavriel heard it from X, and X had heard it directly from the elderly Chossid who had witnessed it. He said who X was, but I couldn't remember. R' Leibel Posner does ring a bell, but I can't be sure (I also got an email from Nechama Posner yesterday and perhaps my brain is playing tricks with me)

Chaim Berlin tragedy said...

Everybody's tragedy!

From Haaretz at
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1042932.html

Bodies of Mumbai terror victims arrive in Israel

By Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz Correspondent in Mumbai

Last update - 02:57 02/12/2008

An Israel Air Force plane carrying the remains of six Israelis and Jews who were killed in the attack on the Chabad House in Mumbai last week landed at Ben Gurion Airport late Monday night.

Four of the bodies, the Holtzbergs, Ben-Zion Korman and Ycheved Orpaz, were draped in prayer shawls and the Israeli flag. The family of one of the victims, Aryeh Leibish Teitelboim, an ultra-Orthodox Jew who had given up his Israeli citizenship, was draped only in a prayer shawl. The body of the sixth victim, a Mexican citizen, Norma Schwartzblatt-Rabinowitz, a Mexican citizen, who had intended to come to live in Israel this week, was also not draped in the Israeli flag.

Teitelboim's family, which belongs to the anti-Zionist Satmar Hassidic sect of Orthodox Judaism, has rejected Israel's offer to hold an official memorial ceremony for him along with the other Jewish and Israeli fatalities.

In a tearful ceremony, the Jewish community of Mumbai paid their last respects to Chabad House emissaries Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg, killed in the terror attack last Wednesday, at the Knesset Eliyahu Synagogue on Monday. Rivka's parents, Shimon and Yehudit Rosenberg were in attendance, along with the Holtzbergs' 2-year-old son, Moshe, who survived the attack.

Thousands of people are expected to attend the Holtzbergs' funeral on Tuesday, which will leave Kfar Chabad this afternoon for the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem.

In Mumbai on Monday, Israel's ambassador to India, Mark Sofer, addressed the congregation at the Mumbai ceremony. However, all eyes and cameras were on Moshe, who was spirited out of the besieged Chabad House at the start of the rampage. Moshe sat on the lap of an Indian worker at Chabad House, Zaki Hussein, who was one of the two Indians who got the toddler out of the house. Reports detailed how Moshe's Nanny, Sandra Samuel, held on to Moshe as Hussein stood on the steps of the house so the terrorists would not see them.

Samuel did not take part in the ceremony since she was busy applying for her first passport, after the Israel Foreign Ministry gave her permission to come to Israel with the Rosenbergs.

A few times during the ceremony at the synagoguge Moshe called for Sandra while his grandmother calmed him with a bottle of water and a piece of candy. When the time came for the last speaker, Rabbi Itzhak Yeruslavsky, a Chabad leader from Israel, Moshe started crying and calling out "Mommy, Mommy." He refused to be consoled and was finally taken outside.

In a voice choked with sobs, Rivka's father, Shimon Rosenberg, who is the Chabad rabbi of Afula, said: "The Lord gave, the Lord took away, blessed be the name of the Lord," and pledged that Chabad House in Mumbai would continue to operate. "Rivki and Gabi were not private citizens," he said. "Everything they did they did for someone else." He thanked Sandra Samuel and said, "We have to thank God for the resourcefulness she showed."

Israeli Ambassador Mark Sofer said: "This is not the time to ask why the world did not do enough to work against the bestial behavior of people and to ask why these two countries, India and Israel, suffer so much from terror. But we, the Israelis and the Indians and the civilized world, will not stop until we are victorious over terror."

Israeli police crime scene investigators arrived early Monday in Mumbai for a final check to ensure no Israelis were among the unidentified bodies. They were on a search of the hospitals in the city when word came that the last two Israelis who had not contacted their families while in India had been heard from, and that they were not in Mumbai at the time of the attacks.

Services were held, in keeping with Foreign Ministry procedure, at the airport in Mumbai in the presence of Ambassador Sofer, after which the coffins were placed aboard an Israel Air Force aircraft bound for Israel.

Chaim Berlin tragedy said...

From tragedy to hope!

(Tzig, could you please either post or create a live link to this video at
http://ishare.rediff.com/filevideo-Jewish-community-shocked-over-Rabbis-dea-id-521574.php
from and Indain news source, it is one of the most powerful ones yet of what happened there and in tribute to the Holtzbergs and their work.)

Shturem at http://www.shturem.org/index.php?section=news&id=31754 reports on Tuesday, 5 Kislev 5769 | December 02 2008:

We May Take Rivka's Place as Envoys

Anshel Pfeffer, Haaretz Correspondent in Mumbai

MUMBAI - Rabbi Shimon Rosenberg and his wife, Yehudit, on Monday said they are considering becoming Chabad's new emissaries to Mumbai, Army Radio reported.

Earlier on Monday, the bodies of Rivka Holtzberg and five other Israelis killed last week when Islamist terrorists attacked the Chabad House were flown from Mumbai to Israel.

Government officials planned a small ceremony upon the plane's arrival at Ben Gurion International Airport late Monday, with funerals scheduled Tuesday.

Also Monday, the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem announced that the final two Israelis who had been unaccounted for in Mumbai since a small army of terrorists struck the city have been located alive and healthy.

Seven members of the Israel Police's victim identification unit had flown to India on Sunday to assist in locating the two missing Israelis, who were feared killed in one of the terror attacks that struck the city.

Meanwhile, dozens gathered at the Knesset Eliyahu synagogue in Mumbai for an emotional ceremony in memory of the six Jews killed last week when Islamist terrorists attacked the city's Chabad headquarters.

Rabbi Rosenberg, whose daughter Rivka and son-in-law Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg both died in the attack, called on the mourners to continue the work his children had begun as the Lubavitch movement's emissaries to Mumbai and vowed that Chabad would continue to operate in the city despite the bloody acts.

Among the participants at the ceremony were Israel's ambassador to India and members of the Israeli rescue team, but all eyes in the room were on the Holtzberg's 2-year-old son, Moshe, who brought the room to tears when during the ceremony he cried out: "Mommy, mommy!"

Mark Sofer, the Israeli ambassador to India, also paid tribute to the victims.

"This is a tragedy for India and a tragedy for Israel, but above all for the families," he said. "We, our Indian friends and the rest of the civilized world will continue to fight terrorism, until we win."

They were killed because they were Jews, simple and plain'

Two-year-old Moshe Holtzberg was accompanied on the trip back to Israel by his maternal grandparents, Yehudit and Shimon Rosenberg, who were reunited with their grandson when they arrived in Mumbai on Friday.

"It was pure raw emotion, tears of joy, tears of sorrow, incredible emotion, understandably out of control," said Robert Katz, a New York-based fund-raiser for an Israeli orphanage founded by the boy's family.

Asked about Moshe's condition, he said: I don't know that he can comprehend or that he will remember seeing his parents shot in cold blood.

Moshe's father, Gavriel, was a dual American-Israeli citizen and his mother was Israeli.

The couple lived in Israel and Brooklyn before they moved to Mumbai in 2003.

The toddler has one older sibling who has Tay-Sachs, a genetic disorder particularly prevalent in Jews of Eastern European origin. He is permanently hospitalized in Israel, Katz said. The couple's first-born child died of Tay-Sachs.

Sandra Samuel, an Indian resident who was the boy's nanny in Israel, will live with Moshe in Israel "so at least he has someone he knows and recognizes and loves," said Katz.

During the siege of the Chabad House, Samuel had locked herself in a laundry room when she heard Moshe's mother Rivka screaming, 'Sandra help!' "Then the screaming stopped, and it was quiet," Katz said.

She cracked open the door of her hiding place and saw a deserted staircase. She ran up one flight and saw the rabbi and his wife, covered in blood and shot to death. She snatched the crying boy, bolted down the stairs and out of the building.

"She's been there with him throughout," Katz said.

Though Samuel has no passport or papers, Moshe's grand-uncle, Rabbi Yitzchak David Grossman, helped arrange for her to get a visa to Israel. In a sad coincidence, Grossman is founder of the Migdal Ohr, which says it is Israel's largest facility for orphaned and disadvantaged children.

The Foreign Ministry said the government would arrange official funeral send representatives to the ceremonies, as it does for victims of attacks at home.

"There are going to be thousands of people at this funeral," said Katz, executive vice president of Migdal Ohr's fundraising arm in New York.

"This couple wasn't living in the West Bank. They weren't settlers. They weren't occupying anyone's land. They were killed because they were Jews, simple and plain.'

4 Kislev 5769

Anonymous said...

Doctor balbin
FYI, the DER BLATT ( Satmar newspaper) translated to Yiddish your long obituary in to this weeks paper, as if you spoke to them,

Isaac Balbin said...

Hi Anonymous,
Is there any chance you (or someone else) could scan and email me the Yiddish version. I'd greatly appreciate that.

You can email me as isaac.balbin at gmail dot com

Bob Levesh said...

Der Blatt is available in Melbourne - every Friday in the Adass Shul. (You may have to pre-order)