Funerals under way for Mumbai victims

By Leon Symons, December 1, 2008

Funerals for some of the six Jewish victims of last week's terror attack on Mumbai's Chabad House are taking place in Israel. Mourners followed a procession for Aryeh Teitelbaum, 37, from Mea She'arim, in Jerusalem, to the Mount of Olives, where he will be buried.

The family of Mr Teitelbaum, a Chassidic jew, had rejected Israel's offer to include him in the official memorial ceremony when the bodies arrivedat Ben-Gurion Airport last night. They also stressed that they did they did want his coffin wrapped in an Israeli flag as those of the other victims would be.

Funerals of the five other victims are being held across the country.
Norma Shvarzblat-Rabinovich, 50, a Mexican Jew who had planned to make aliya this week began at 11:30 p.m. in Givat Shaul. This was followed by a service in memory of Bentzion Kruman, 28, in Bat Yam. He is to be buried at the Segula cemetery. His funeral will be attended by his family, and community leaders.

Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg, 29, and his wife Rivka, 28, will be laid to rest on Jerusalem's Mount of Olives, following A funeral procession from Kfar Chabad.

Two United Synagogue rabbis, Rabbi Yitzchak Schochet of Mill Hill Synagogue in North West London and Rabbi Mendel Lew from Stanmore, last night flew to Israel to represent their British colleagues at the funerals.

Rabbi Schochet will be making a quick turnaround as he is due to be back in his pulpit for a memorial service on Wednesday night alongside Chief Rabbi Sir Jonathan Sacks.
There will also be services in Leeds on Wednesday night and in Liverpool on Sunday morning.

The two ministers will be at the levaya of Rabbi Gabriel Holtzberg and his wife Rivka, to whom dozens of tributes have been paid from people around the world.

Many contacted the JC to express their sorrow. They included historian Sir Martin Gilbert, who met the Holtzbergs during a visit to the town two years ago. Sir Martin said: “My wife Esther and I fondly remember Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his wife Rivkah as the delightful young couple who invited us to Shabbat supper in Mumbai two and a half years ago.

“Rabbi Gavriel led us through the warm streets, with other overseas worshippers from the Mumbai synagogue that Friday evening, past the Taj Hotel to his apartment. We vividly recall their roof terrace, their warm hospitality - Rivka’s magnificent array of delicious foods, many from Israel - and their enjoyment of all their guests.”

Yael Jhirad, chair of WIZO India met Rivka Holtzberg only weeks after they arrived in Mumbai five years ago at a reception for Ehud Olmert, then deputy prime minister.

“I didn’t know what it was because there had never been a Chabad house in Mumbai before. She told me where they were. When I asked how long she planned to be in India she said: ‘until Moshiach comes’.

“I was stunned and I started looking at this girl who was 22 or 23. That’s what I remember, someone so young, so new, but who had such a clear idea of what they were here for,” said Mrs Jhirad.

Last updated: 3:32pm, December 2 2008



Tue, 12/02/2008 - 00:38

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What a contrast -- the eternal Jewish youth and hope for redemption versus the ages old vicious hatred transmitted to youthful fanatics. I recall the inspiring words of a Golders Green Rav in the days following 9/11 : we have to show that we are even more committed to doing what is right than they are committed to doing what is evil.