Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Where are Gabi and Rivki?

In late 2003, just before the holiday of Chanukah, Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg moved to Mumbai, India. This Chabad-Lubavitch couple, like thousands of their peers had done before them, relocated from their comfortable communities in New York and Israel, respectively, in order to spread the light of Judaism to a corner of the world that was still dim. Would life be easy in Mumbai? No. But, this move was in answer to the Lubavitcher Rebbe's call which urges those whom are privileged to be brought up with Torah and mitzvos to share it with the Jews living on spiritually desolate lands; thus, they embraced their mission joyfully.
In India, they cooked, listened, baked, taught, sang, cleaned, wrote, spoke, danced, built, organized, fed and washed, nonstop; there was nothing they wouldn't do for their fellow Jew from that small room they rented in a main tourist area at the three-star Shelley’s Hotel.
For months Gavriel (Gabi) and Rivka (Rivki) struggled with the tiny space they had while at the same time, they thrived and grew in their love and care. Finally, with the help of a donation from George Rohr, they were able to secure a rundown five-story concrete office building on an alley called Hormusji Street. They had big plans for it: a kitchen, dining room, and restaurant on the first floor; a library, a synagogue, and an Internet lounge on the second; guest rooms on the third and fourth; their own apartment on the fifth, and on the roof, they would hold parties and special events.
In 2006, the building was dedicated as India’s first permanent Chabad House.
As for Rivki and Gabi? They, too, were dedicated permanently in India. Day after day, night after night, holiday after holiday, they continued to host, teach, feed and soothe the minds, souls, bodies and spirits of the countless Jews passing through their city. And they planned to do this indefinitely.
But something went wrong.
If you walk into the Chabad House today, you will not see Gabi and Rivki. For the past twelve months, Gabi and Rivki have not been talking, laughing and catering in their Indian Chabad House. But why not? What happened to their permanence? Were they not to stay in Mumbai forever?
They were...but one year ago, to the day, terrorists entered their holy center and killed them.
And so, they're not there anymore. They're gone. But, they cannot be gone. No substance on this earth, neither physical or spiritual, ever disappears. Modern physics has taught us that it merely changes form.
If so, where are Gabi and Rivki now?
Gabi and Rivki are now in the "Gan Gavi VeRivky Chabad" kindergarten in Har Chomah; the "Gan Rivkah" kindergarten in Lod; the "Gan Rivkah" in Marin County, California; and the "Gan Gabi & Rivki-Early Learning Centre" in Bentleigh, a suburb of Melbourne.
They are in the "Midreshet Rivka" learning program in Yehud; in the "Beis Chabad" room in the Beis Chaya Elementary School of Haifa; in the "Neshama" Beis Medrash for women in Givat-Mordechai; and in the "Beis Gavriel" synagogue in Hendon, Northwest London.
Gabi and Rivki are alive in the brit milah circumcisions performed in their honor by 2 teenage Russian boys in Kfar Citron and a 65 year old man in the Dutch city of Almere.
Gabi and Rivki are in the "Gabi & Rivky Holtzberg Kitchen" in the Chabad House in Rancho Mirage, California; the kosher food cooperative in Ulster Country, NY; in the "Holtzberg Hospitality Home" in Morris, NY; and in the libraries in the Chabad House of Seoul, Korea and the mobile Chabad House at the Golani Junction in the Lower Galilee.
They are in the newly renovated Mikvahs in Baltimore and in Kiryat Ata; in "The Chodesh Group" in Conejo Valley, California; in the launching of a Taharas Hamishpocha (Family Purity) website; and in the brand new series of interactive classes on the three Mitzvos connected to women, called "Rivkah's Tent".
Gabi and Rivki are alive in the newly-established achdus gatherings for the Shluchim in Georgia; in the seminars for the women of Lod; the Lag Baómer parade in Ramat Eshkol; the Megillah printed in Bangalore, India; the Aron Kodesh in A&M University, Texas; the daily Chassidic message on Shmais.com; the massive candle-lighting campaign in France; and in the learning, phone-shiurim and publications of Yagdil Torah.
Gabi and Rivki are in the Sunday school in Marrakesh, Morocco; the Jewish Welcome Center in S Thomas, Virgin Islands; and in the new Chabad Center opened in Pokon, Chile.
Gabi and Rivki have had Torahs written and dedicated in Canada (in Downtown Vancouver); in the US (in Gwinnett, GA, in Northwest Connecticut, in Clark County, WA, in San Diego, CA, and in the Federal Correctional Institution at Morgantown, WV); in the United Kingdom (in Manchester, England); in Israel (in Eilat and in Haifa's Technion University) and the latest, most meaningful one (started at the end of shiva) which was dedicated this week in New York and celebrated by hundreds and hundreds of Gabi and Rivki's Chabad family as they danced and sang with the Torah that will soon be sent to use in Mumbai.
Why? How? How does it come to be that thousands and thousands of Chabadnikim should feel this way? That a Shliach in Oslo, Norway and a Shliach in Leeds, England should mourn for Gabi like they were brothers? That the Chabad Emissaries to Coppenhagen, Denmark, to Naperville, Illinois and to Caracas, Venezuela should all feel like they are members of Gabi and Rivki Holtzberg's family? That memorial services and mitzvah campaigns should be held in every city where a Chabad Shliach resides? That large color photos of the young Holtzberg couple should be placed in prominent positions in Chabad homes worldwide? That, during the course of the past year, more than five hundred Chabad couples should name their newborn child "Gavriel Noach" or "Rivka"? Why? How?
Regarding a human hand, when one finger gets injured, the other four fingers work a bit harder to make up for the loss of strength. When a finger on each hand gets wounded, the other eight must work even harder. No one limb insists on separating when the other fails. After all, they all receive their lifeblood from the same one heart and they are all working under the same one head.
Gabi, Rivki and every single Shliach receive their lifeblood from the same one heart and work under the same one head.
According to the "What Can I Do?" Mumbai-response webpage, more than 12,100 mitzvos (good deeds) have been added since-and as a result of-the attack on Gabi and Rivki's Chabad House.
So, are they gone?
Or are they still here?
Are Rivki and Gabi missing from their post?
Or are they carrying out their mission with more force than ever to be believed?
Where are Gabi and Rivki? I think I know.


Yossi said...

incredible post. thank you very much for writing this

the sabra said...

I changed
"Gabi and Rivki and every Shliach were getting blood from the same heart and were working under one head."
"Gabi and Rivki and every Shliach get blood from the same heart and work under one head."

I also considered "are getting blood..". What do you think? (To anyone reading this)

Dovid said...


Anonymous said...

this is such an amazing piece, such a good way to channel the thoughts at this time...

C said...

Sabra-please send this to a chabad website. Although your blog is extremely popular, I think the Chabad world at large can benefit from reading this. Beautifully written!!

Rachel Natik said...

Wow, this post just totally blew me away! In general, I love your blog- its one of my favorites. But I was just sitting at the computer and thinking "Its been one year- now what. What does this mean?" Your post is beautifully written and inspiring. May I have your permission to post it elsewhere?

the sabra said...

Thanks and yes, you definitely do. (Mind letting me know where?)

Rachel Natik said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
the sabra said...

Ye sure, anything on this blog is free for taking and you don't need to give credit but it's nice for me to know where else it's posted :)

the sabra said...

I just read that R' Holtzberg said “We know of 11 kindergartens built in their name, 12 new Torahs, 6 mikvahs, 5 other institutions, and another 6 on their way.”

That means I'm missin quite a few stuff here in this article. And originally, I wrote fifty newborns, but apparently there are close to 500! Better fix it on Shmais..