Rabbi and wife among Mumbai victims

By Marcus Dysch and Anshel Pfeffer in Mumbai, November 28, 2008

The rabbi held hostage with his wife in Mumbai are among those killed in the Chabad House attack, the Chabad-Lubavitch movement has confirmed.

Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his wife, Rivka, ran the movement's local headquarters, one of 10 buildings attacked on Thursday. Indian special forces had stormed the building at first light on Friday. Lowered on to the five-storey building by helicopters, they blew a large hole in the roof.

Then they slowly worked their way down from floor to floor. One commando was killed in gunfire which saw all the terrorists killed. For the next couple of hours, members of the Indian marine Commando continued to make controlled explosions of the grenades and explosives that the terrorists had left behind.

Only at nine in the evening (local time) did they leave and a group of Israelis, led by the military attaché in India, were allowed in. Many of the rooms had been destroyed in the heavy fighting. At least seven bodies were found in the building. One was found in the synagogue on the second floor.

The Holzberg’s toddler son, Moshe, had been released earlier with his nanny is now with his grandparents.

The Chief Rabbi, Sir Jonathan Sacks, had earlier expressed in a letter to the High Commissioner of India, Mr Shiv Shankar Mukherjee , his support and condolences for the people of Mumbai. "There is no greater tragedy than innocent loss of life. We share your grief, your trauma, your tears," he said.

Rabbi Yehuda Krinsky, of the Chabad-Lubavitch Movement in New York said: “In these attacks, terrorists targeted foreign nationals, underscoring the need for governments to work collectively to fight terrorism resolutely and effectively, so that the hands of those seeking to destroy life and disrupt peace will no longer reach their targets.”

In a joint statement, the six major faith communities in Birmingham, said they were “deeply shocked and saddened” by the attacks.
They added: “We unequivocally assert that such acts cannot find any measure of justification within any of our faith traditions. All our faiths are united in condemnation of indiscriminate slaughter.”

And an Inter Faith Network statement, members offered “prayers for those injured or bereaved” condemned terrorist violence; and “affirm the crucial importance of work to increase inter religious and inter community understanding in the UK as well as internationally”.

Last updated: 5:56pm, November 28 2008


Max Freedman

Sun, 11/30/2008 - 16:14

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Mumbai - India situation is probably one of the most tragic happening in our life time , it's painful 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; help lead us to the ultimate 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 thoughts that I have derived from this situation, to try and better myself, I am not trying to point fingers at any one, I'm simply thinking out loud.

First, We always have to remember what 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, As Jews we have to believe that what ever happens in our lifetime is good for us, even though we can't see how something so tragic could possibly be considered good, but as we know that it's Hashems doings it must be good for us, Hashems ways are only good he is a Ruchum V'chunun, there has to be something "good" for us hidden in every difficult situation that we are not on a level to imagine yet.

Third, The people who Hashem ended their life so suddenly must have been very great - special people, holy Neshomes, they have tremendous Zechusim, as a amall example, they where able to unite Klall Yisroel have all of us, no matter of our background, from all around the globe, Daven for their safety etc. 50 - 60 hours around the clock, when was the last time that we all felt so close to each other having Yiden all over the world pray so much, same time, for the same topic to Hashem.

Forth, Where did it happen? in a Bais Hamedresh a Shul building: lets examine our selves and see if we are careful with the full amount of respecting one has to have for a Shul / Bais Medresh as it says in Shulchan Aruch? What percentage of us can honestly say that we go to Shul JUST to Daven and not to socialize? Are we on guard not to Shmuz or not to answer our Cell / Mobil phones during Davening? Do we pray with enough Kavonah? How many keep quiet during Laning when we read from the holy Torah? (and don't join the Kiddush club) sad to say, I have visited places that there is so much talking during Davening that's its a Chilul Hashem to step into a so called Shul... So why do we wonder why Hashem is showing us so much anger.

Fifth, One or more of the Kedoshim at the seen was a Mashgiach for a very reliable Kashrus organization; I think it time that we are careful what we eat and whom we can trust to certify our foods, what foods enter our homes. We can't go with the attitude when I go to a Shimcha / Kidush / Hotel / Restaurant etc. I rely totally on the Mashgiach no matter who he is, we have to go and investigate the kitchen situation see whom we are relying on, would I rely on him or her for my business advice too? Or if we hear that a cretin product is questionable do we care, or our attitude is: well it has a Kosher symbol on the packaging it's enough for me, the rest it's not my problem.

Sixth, The Kedoshim where reported as hostages for some time, WHY DID HASHEM MAKE THIS into a HOSTAGE SITUATION? Maybe the strong message
is: Hashem is crying out to us and saying: I (Hashem) am hostage for "two thousand years" please turn back to me, do Teshuva from the bottom of your hearts, get me back to the Bais Hamikdosh, A.S.A.P. Hashem is in great pain, being in Golus such a long time is not easy, he is waiting for us to repent, have Achdus and greet Moshiach.

May we all use this horrifying experience to get closer to Hashem, do Teshuva obey our holy Torah, and be Zocha to see with our own eyes the Geulah in the near future.