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Offical Chabad Statement On Killing Of Rabbi Gavriel & Rivkah Holtzberg HY”D

mum.jpgRabbi 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 L’Inyonei 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 Mumbai’s 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.

11 Responses

  1. hashem yinkom damam – i dont think we serve our interests by bringing up the mention of lubavitch – in shamayim they dont ask a person if he belonged to lubavitch belz viznitz etc

  2. to #1 i think yr wrong . u dont want to mention lubavitch , this family went as a emisary 4 the Rebba of lubavitch , he could have been a rebi in a yeshiva , he was proud to be ah shliach of the Rebba ,thats a fact , i know his family very well. and the Rebba will be there to greet them in gan eden .

  3. This is probably one of the most tragic happening in our life time to be able to comment on, its so sad for all of us no difference if we knew the victims or not, its a loss for all of Klall Yisroel. May Hahem give their families and us comfort and lead us to the Geulah in the near future, Amen.

    I was thinking what lesson can I take from this tragedy for my self, please allow me to share a couple of points that I have derived from this situation, to try and better myself.

    First, we always have to remember that Chazel teach us that NOTHING ever happens in the world by itself everything that happened since the first moment of creation is all done and approved by Hashem Yisborch.

    Second, we have to believe that what ever happens is good for us, even though we can’t see how something so tragic could possibly be considered to be good, but once we know that Hashem made it happen it has to be good for us, Hashem is only good Ruchum V’chunun.

    Third, the people who Hashem ended their life so suddenly must have been very great – special people they have tremendous Zechusim, for example they where able to unite Klall Yisroel and have all of us at all parts of the globe, Daven for their safety etc.20 – 30 hours around the clock, when was the last time that we all felt so close to each other and have Yiden all over the world pray so much same time to Hashem.

    Forth, where did it happen? in a Bais Hamedresh a Shul: lets examineour selves if are we careful with the full amount of respecting for a Shul / Bais Hamedresh as it says in Shulchan Aruch? what presentage of us can honestly say that we go to Shul JUST to Daven and not to shoselize? are we on guard not to answer our cell phones during Davening? do we pray with Kavonah? how many keep quiet during Laning when we read from the holy Torah? (and not join the Kiddush club) sad to say, I have visited places that there is so much talking during Davening thats its a Chilul Hashem to step into a so called Shul.

    Fifth, one of the Kedoshim at the seen was a Mashgiach for Kashrus, I think it about time that we are more careful what we eat and who we trust to certify what foods enter our homes and systems. We cant go with the idea well, when I go to a Shimcha I rely totaly on the Mashgiach we have to go into the kitchen and see who are we relying on, would I rely on him for a business advise too? or if some one mentions that a cretin product is questionable do we care?

    Sixth, the Kedoshim where hostages, WHY? maybe because Hashem is crying out to us and saying: I (Hashem) am a hostage for about “two thousand years” please return back to me, do Teshuva, and get me back to the Bais Hamikdosh, A.S.A.P.

    May we all use this experience and get closer to Hashem, do Teshuva and be zocha to the Geulah in the near future.

  4. may the families be comforted amongst the mourners of zion and yerushalayim and may they have a lichtige gan eden but theres no distinction between litvish chasidish lubavitch etc – its enough to say that he was a yid

  5. #1 – What is wrong with mentioning that they were Lubavitch? You are right that in Shamayim they don’t ask what you were. However, it is a fact that this happened in a Chabad House. They were also talking about the wonderful merits of this couple as Shluchim of the Lubavitcher Rebbe.
    And by the way, this comment is coming from someone who is not Lubavitch. We are all Jews and all feel the pain.

  6. #6 – looking at how much press coverage there is when mentioning that they are lubavitch i think illustrates my point – there were nebach many victims in this horrific attack yet we seem to keep on focusing on “chabad house” shlichim” – i am also not Lubavitch and i admit i dont look kindly onto their activities which i believe are inconsistant with the opinions of gedolei torah – yet that has no bearing on my pain for the korbonos all im saying is that what unites us is that were benei avrohom yitzchok veyaakov not the type of shtreimel we wear

  7. Oi heilege Bashefer,such innocent souls,young and beautiful.Such heilige korbonos! May they all be a meilitz yosher in shomayim.Like the rest of the comments,I agree,if there is one thing we can learn from this tragedy,is that we all MUST come closer together. No more sinas chinom,divisiveness,arguments,breakaways,BROTHERS fighting,etc. We are 1 family,and we have 1 father. We cant afford any more bickering&fighting. Its a shame that it took this tragedy r’l to bring us all together, We should have done this long ago.If only people would use their brains,and think out of the box,and act like one family,moshiach would have come long ago.

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