Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Mumbai Chabad House - A Tribute

The entire Jewish world and its friends amongst the nations stand together in shock over the horrific massacre of six Jews in the Nariman Chabad House in Mumbai, India. In addition to Rabbi Gavriel and Rebetzin Rivka, four other Jews who were at the Chabad House when it was attacked also gave up their lives to the terrorists' brutality: Rabbi Aryeh Leibish Teitelbaum, Rabbi Ben Tzion Kruman, Yocheved Orpaz and Norma Shvartzblat Rabinovch, all of blessed memory.

Thousands of Jews have passed through their doors since the Holtzbergs came to India five years ago. This page is a tribute to the slain couple that founded and directed the Mumbai Chabad House, Rabbi Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg, of blessed memory.

In the words of Rabbi Gavriel's direct superior in the worldwide Chabad-Lubavitch movement, Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky:

"He was the finest and nicest gentleman that you can imagine. Never saw him without a smile. In the most trying of times, he was always cheerful. He greeted everyone pleasantly, and the reports that we always heard from around the world were of him being a real mentch [a warm individual of sterling character]. He was a very very special person, him and his wife."

More features and information will be added to this page daily.

Please send your story and/or pics of a personal encounter with Rabbi Gavriel
and Rivka Holtzberg to: We will publish your full name and place of residence [not email] unless otherwise noted.

Tribute Story of the Day

I travel abroad for work frequently and benefit from Chabad hospitality around the globe. During customer visits in India (printing industry) I was a guest of the Holtzbergs, of blessed memory, in Mumbai. I was thrilled to find my way to them, just before Purim.

Located in the old Jewish community of Mumbai, near synagogues built by Indian Jews over the past century, they lived and served in a difficult environment, surrounded by poverty, squalor and, nearby, a huge Muslim neighborhood with dozens of mosques.

It was a little scary for me, but I remember Rebetzin Rivka going out alone into the open market to buy vegetables, and thought: "What courage, faith and fortitude they have to be welcoming strangers, fellow Jews from abroad and from across the street. There are so many poor Indian Jews still in Mumbai; who would take notice, other than holy Jews like Rabbi Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg?"

May their son, Moshe, a survivor, grow up strong to carry on his father's faith and love of God and the people of Israel.



Rabbi Gavriel (29-yrs) and Rivka (28-yrs) Holtzberg
Rivka cuts ribbon at new mikva (ritual pool) in Mumbai
A guest dons tefillin to recite the Shema prayer at Mumbai Chabad House
Rabbi Gavriel, Doron ben Avraham and Benjamin Dandekar (Hazzan) at Mumbai Chabad House at Meal before Fast of Esther, Purim 2007
(courtesy Doron ben Avraham)

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