Friday, November 28, 2008

Profile of Rabbi & Mrs. Holtzberg

NYTimes: Prof. Isaac Balbin shares his personal memories - must read

In 2003, barely out of their teens and newly married, Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his wife, Rivka, moved from Brooklyn to the coastal city of Mumbai, India, to manage a mix of educational center, synagogue and social hall known as a Chabad house, one of about 3,500 outposts around the world run by the Lubavitch Hasidic movement.

The place soon became a year-round magnet for Israeli backpackers and the Jewish businessmen and tourists who flock to Mumbai, as well as for the Iraqi and Indian Jews who live there. Mrs. Holtzberg served visitors coffee and homemade kosher delicacies. Rabbi Holtzberg always offered a helping hand to someone who was sick or stranded, often calling worried parents or spouses miles and miles away to calm them.

On Wednesday, the Holtzbergs’ Chabad house became an unlikely target of the terrorist gunmen who unleashed a series of bloody coordinated attacks at locations in and around Mumbai’s commercial center.

Firing grenades and automatic weapons, the men also took the Holtzbergs and at least six other people hostage in the Chabad house, according to friends of the Holtzbergs. The couple’s 2-year-old son, Moshe, and a cook managed to escape about 12 hours into the siege, the friends said. The boy’s pants were soaked in blood when he emerged. By late Thursday afternoon in New York, there was still no news of his parents’ fate.[...]

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