Saturday, November 29, 2008

Chabad-Lubavitch Mourns Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg

The stories of tragedy are still coming in from Mumbai, India. I am personally praying for all of those whose lives were lost, and for their families.

Gavriel Holtzberg, his wife Rivka

Yet, I have been particularly moved by the deaths of Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his wife Rivka, who were members of Chabad-Lubavitch, an outreach organization of Hasidic Judaism.

Headquartered in Brooklyn, Chabad's West Coast headquarters is located in Los Angeles. The Los Angeles Times
has this biographical information on the Holtzbergs:
Gavriel Holtzberg was born in Israel and moved with his family to Crown Heights when he was 9. He held dual citizenship, and studied at yeshivas in New York and Argentina, also serving as a rabbinical student in Thailand and China. Rivkah was born and raised in Israel before relocating to New York.

The couple met through a matchmaker, and they moved to Mumbai soon after their marriage to serve the region's small Jewish community of businesspeople, tourists and residents and help impoverished and drug-addicted people in the neighborhood. They raised money to purchase a five-story building, which became known as the Nariman House, in the tourist neighborhood of Colaba.

The couple ran the synagogue and Torah classes. Gavriel also conducted Jewish weddings, circumcisions and ritual slaughterings. Since kosher meat was not available in India, Gavriel, a kosher butcher, prepared the meat for himself and the rest of the Jewish community there, said his cousin, Rabbi Dovid Holtzberg, 32, of Monterey, Calif.

Dovid grew up and attended school with Gavriel in Crown Heights. Speaking on the telephone from Monterey, he said: "I'm in disbelief. I cannot believe that I'm talking about my cousin in the past tense."

Dovid Holtzberg said his cousin told him life in Mumbai was busy, and that many people came to see him. About 10 days ago, Dovid and his cousin connected on the Web networking site Facebook.

The Holtzbergs were working to establish Chabad centers in other parts of India, said Dovid Zaklikowski, a friend in New York, who spoke regularly with Gavriel.
The Wall Street Journal's story notes how the Chabad members had no official relationship with the Israeli government, and hence no security against anti-Jewish terrorism:

Despite its tight connections with Israel, the Chabad House was a soft target - much easier to hit than tightly guarded Israeli diplomatic missions or the offices of Israel's El Al airline. "Chabad has no official association with Israel, so they did not have any protection," Mr. Belotserkovsky said.
The official reference is to Eli Belotserkovsky, Israel's deputy chief of mission in India.

See also, "
Remembering Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg."


Norm said...

It is now predicted that the death toll will reach 300. Then we have to imagine three hundred such wonderful people who have been slaughtered by a bunch of psychopaths in the name of a religion. It is the Muslims who must stand up now...the rest of the world has had enough.

AmPowerBlog said...

Thanks Norm.

All of this makes me sad.

Anonymous said...

REally Norm? Is it the muslims?

So do Christians stand up when other "christians" kill people? You know like the British imperialists who dominated their colonial subjects?

Are Christians standing up against their fellow Christians who kill?

What makes you think muslims should appologize when an infinitely small number of their population decides to take this path?

And I find it interesting that you pay so much attention to the killing of two people, when 300 others were also killed. I also find it ironic that this is the biggest story in a world where millions are dying every year due to war and famine.

You people are blinded by your own narcissism. Only being able to see one foot ahead of the proverbial pole