Rambling ...

I'm an Irish Girl, A Dubliner, with the 'Gift of the Gab' ... I like to talk & to tell you things. In Celtic times news, views and comment were carried from place to place by wandering Seanachaí ~ Storytellers ~ who relied on their host's hospitality and appreciation. I will need that from you too, as I venture to share Politics, Poetry, Laughter, Love, Life & everything in-between ... from Bog to Blog!!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Murdered in Mumbai !!!!

Today is the third anniversary of the terror attacks in Mubmai, India's financial capital. Some 25 Islamic terrorists from Pakistan infiltrated India's borders by sea, and strategically attacked 10 Civilian residencies, including 2 major hotels, 2 hospitals, a tourist restaurant and targeting down Mumbai's Chabad House, killing at least 195 civilians in the attack.

Among those murdered, 6 people in the Chabad house were murdered, all of whom were Jews.  They were murdered because they were Jews. They were Bentzion Chroman, Rabbi Leibish Teitelbaum, Yocheved Orpaz, and Norma Shvarzblat Rabinovich, and the Chabad couple who ran the Nariman Chabad house, Rabbi Gavriel and Rebbetzin Rivkah Holtzberg.  The Holtzbergs were pre-selected targets.

Indian Police killed two of the terrorists inside the Chabad House, Abu Umar, and Babar Imaran; who had told the Holtzbergs they were Israeli travelers, and were being hosted by the Holtzbergs with their legendary hospitality.   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.

"Gavi and Rivka 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."

These terrorists seized hold of the Chabad House around 9:45 PM on Wednesday, November 25th, and were reported to be holding several hostages. Rabbi Holtzberg had been on the phone with the Israeli Embassy when the terrorists stormed the house.  His last known phone call was to the Israeli Consulate Wednesday night to report that gunmen were in his house. In the middle of the conversation, the line went dead.  US Chabad official Rabbi Levi Shemtov attempted to negotiate with the terrorists on the phone, but the terrorists would not allow any officials to speak to any of the hostages.  Sometime on Thursday all of the Jewish hostages were mutilated & murdered for the "crime" of being Jewish!

Among the hostages released, the Holtzbergs two-year-old son, Moshe, was rescued by their nanny, Sandra Samuel, who was hiding in a closet when she heard him crying. The nanny grabbed baby Moshe, who had just celebrated his second birthday & had been wandering around in bload-soaked clothing, a witness to the horrific events unfolding around him.  He lives now in Eretz Yisrael with his Grandparents, Rabbi Shimon and Yehudit Rosenberg, & started first grade school for the first time in September.  Sandra Samuel became an Israeli citizen last September. At a ceremony in the Interior Ministry Samuel said she would give her life and heart for Israel. Her Mitzvah will never be forgotten, I am reminded of Ruth the Moabite, whose words were that Ha'Shem would henceforth be her G-d. 

Early Friday morning, Indian security officials attacked and forced their way into the Chabad House, killing the two terrorists in the crossfire,  they discovered that all the hostages were already murdered.  Rebbetzin Holtzberg was found, bound & trussed up by telephone wires, and there signs of torture, beating, and sexual abuse on her and the other five Jewish victims.    She was five months pregnant at the time.  The Chabad house was a deliberate target in the terrorists' agenda.  And more importantly, the world lost some special people.  
The Holtzbergs were emissaries to their cause ~  spreading kindness to the world, because they felt it was the right thing to do. They both decided at a young age to devote their life to helping other Jews who needed more religious inspiration. The couple arrived to Mumbai in 2003 and ran the open Chabad house to offer a kosher meal and a comfortable atmosphere to any guests passing through. Rabbi Holtzberg bought and prepared hundreds of chickens himself, as there was no kosher meat in Mumbai. Rivkah baked bread for 800 people by the week,  provided daycare for children,  and all types of holiday activities and religious services.

The Chabad house served as a haven for Jewish life in Mumbai .... they provided full-time kosher food,  synagogue services, and shabbat services for anyone who walked into their home. The Holtzbergs both taught Torah classes in Mumbai to the Jewish community, whose population is close to 4,000 & provided tens of thousands of meals to all the different types of people who entered the Chabad house, in addition to performing funeral and wedding services for the Jewish community.

Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg said, “The Torah says to love your fellow Jew as yourself. Our work here is not just our job, its our pleasure!”   The Holtzbergs had told the Jewish community of Mumbai that they were always there for them.  The Holtzbergs represent people that don't just say, but do. A tragedy such as this, may destroy the Chabad family in Mumbai, but while it is human to grieve,  it is also important to move forward, and take lessons out of everything.  In fact her friends always described Rebbetzin Rivkah Rosenberg as always having a positive outlook and a kind word for everyone, with a Smile!

As this Attack was on a Chabad house I think it appropriate to end with a quote from the Lubavitcher Rebbi, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson .....  “It is not our job to explain, but it is our job to act, Tragedies must be cultivated to make something positive out of it. We must build and grow to bring more light onto this world.”    Practically, the message the Holtzbergs would have wanted to give would be to increase the acts of kindness in order to make the world a better place.  It is actually this weeks Parsha from Torah, so fits here so well.  While we live on, the Holtzbergs do not,  but their acts of kindness echo in the world ....  we will live and learn from them.  

May their Neshamot have an Aliyah!!!!


  1. Thank you, Pana. Only tears now as I remember. Once again, I feel we need to encourage more women to light. We need more light to chase away this terrible darkness.
    I will share this on my facebook, if you do not mind.

  2. we read your blog some years ago what happened in mumbai this was not good, terrorist attack is very big problem of all over the world,we have to fight to completely remove the terrorism.

    Thanks for sharing this blog

  3. Chabad London in avraham’s building of three altars and their effect on his progeny can be understood accordingly: he thereby laid the foundations for the three general aspects of Divine service practiced by the Jewish people throughout history.