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Chabad Center Terror Attack / Memorial Evening Monday Night

Friday, 28 November, 2008 - 2:35 pm

Chabad Center attacked, 6 Killed!!!!
Memorial Evening Monday Night at the Chabad Center of Sudbury

Just six hours ago we received the terrible news that we were dreading to hear from the Chabad House in India. Rabbi Gabi Holtzberg and his wife Rivka along with 7 other hostages in the Chabad House were found dead in the building following the 9 hours assault by Indian Commandos.

My heart is laden with grief and filled with pain from this terrible and traumatic event. Images of their unharmed blood covered screaming baby being rushed out of the building by their nanny will forever be etched in our memories. Images of a pair Tzitzit (prayer shawl) being waved from a window in the final hours of the siege will also never be fully answered.

The terror attack on the Chabad Center and on the young couple who are the same ages as myself and my wife and doing the same work in a remote place struck a chilling chord in the hearts of myself and my wife, and the hearts of the 4000 Chabad Emissaries who just spent a weekend together in NYC for our convention last week. 

Rabbi Gabi was born in Israel but grew up in Crown Heights, his wife Rivka was from Israel.  They were a couple who dedicated their lives to helping other people and were renowned for their hospitality, warmth and friendship. Over the last 5 years they had developed a beautiful Chabad Center serving the local Jewish community as well as the thousands of backpackers and tourists who passed through the area.

The wound is still fresh, and our hearts are bursting with pain.

Memorial Event this Monday Night at the Chabad Center of Sudbury

In light of this tragic event we will be holding a memorial event and service this coming Monday evening at 7pm at the Chabad Center 22 Union Ave #9 Sudbury, MA 01776.

Please join us as together we remember all the victims of these terrible attacks and perpetuate their memory around the world. Let us know via email sudburychabad@aol.com or by phone 978 443 0110 if you can join us, and pass on this message to your friends.

To read more click here

May we have a better week of news to report.

Feel free to share your comments below.

Shabbat Shalom

Yisroel Freeman

Comments on: Chabad Center Terror Attack / Memorial Evening Monday Night

Raphael Altman wrote...

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 didnt 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

Rabbi Thomas wrote...

Dear Rabbi Freeman,

On behalf of everyone at Beth El, I want to express our deep sorrow and outrage for the murders of Rabbi Holtzberg and his wife, along with all the innocent dead in Mumbai this weekend. By all accounts, Rabbi Holtzberg and his wife were wonderful people, doing great work for the Jewish people and for others during their short years in India. May their memory forever be a blessing.

The Jewish people mourn as one today.

I pass along this statement issued Friday by the CCAR - the Central Conference of American Rabbis, the Reform Rabbinic organization:

Central Conference of American Rabbis

November 28, 2008

Reform Rabbinical Leaders Mourn Chabad-Lubavitch Deaths in Mumbai

We stand with our Jewish brothers and sisters, in shock at
the brutal, senseless murders of Rabbi Gavriel Noach Holtzberg, his
wife, Rivka, and three others at the Chabad-Lubavitch Center in Mumbai,
India. Targeted for no reason other than that they were Jewish, their
deaths deeply sadden Jewish people everywhere. We have been taught:
Kol Yisrael areyvim zel lazeh. All Jewish people are connected to one
another. We are one people in mourning today.

The world is in shock, as we struggle to contemplate the
terror that has shaken the world's largest democracy. We, leaders of
the world's largest organization of Rabbis, lend our prayers and our
sympathies to all who are most directly touched by these horrific acts
of terror, targeting Indians, Americans, Britons and others, including
our own people.

We commend the governments of India, Israel, the United
States, and others that are working together to minimize deaths and to
bring a swift end to the violence that continues to rock Mumbai. May
all people of good will everywhere join in partnership with God, the One
who makes peace in heaven, to bring peace to India and all the world,
speedily and in our own day.

Rabbi Peter Knobel
Rabbi Steven Fox

Executive Vice President

Rabbi David B. Thomas
Congregation Beth El of the Sudbury River Valley

Sol Cohen wrote...

I was very saddened to hear the news of that wonderful couple being killed so senselessly. From what I have read about them, they were the best of human beings, doing peaceful work serving the community in a place and culture far from home. They opened their home to and fed, much as you and Shayna do so generously on a regular basis, visitors and those who wanted to peacefully learn about and practice Judaism. How hideous this was, that young couple being killed for being Jewish (as it would be hideous for anybody to be killed simply for peacefully practicing their religion). It is difficult to get the idea of their orphaned child beginning life in such a way out of mind.

May their memories and the memory of what they were accomplishing go on forever and become a beacon and an inspiration for those who would consider dedicating their lives, as they did, to such a worthy cause. And, may their son live a full, happy and fulfilling life, and come to fully understand the bravery of their parents and the importance of their work.

I am sorry I cannot make the service tonight. I will see you later this week.