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Atrocity Shocks Jewish World
After more than 40 hours and a day-long siege by Indian commandos against Islamist terrorists holed up in the Mumbai Chabad House, the operation ended with the discovery that five of the Jewish hostages had been murdered by their captors, including Chabad-Lubavitch emissary, Classmate and close friend of Rabbi Carlebach, Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his wife Rivka.

Rabbi Gavriel Noach Holtzberg, left, and his wife Rivkah Holtzberg, the directors of Chabad-Lubavitch of Mumbai, India

The bodies of five hostages were found on Friday after Indian security forces attacked gunmen at the Jewish center run by the couple. Commando forces overran the building, killing all of the terrorists within. The operation lasted over 24 hours.

Gavriel and Rivka, aged 29 and 26 respectively, first arrived in Mumbai as Chabad emissaries five years ago, after completing a mission in Thailand. They resided in the house together with their 2-year old son, Moshe, who was rescued from the attack by his nanny.

Gavriel Holtzberg grew up in Brooklyn, NY, where his parents still reside. They arrived in Israel Friday morning, before reports of the tragedy were released. The bodies of Gavriel and Rivka were identified a few hours after the commando operation had come to an end.

Frida, Gavriel's mother, told of the couple's commitment to the Chabad center in Mumbai. "There is no other couple like them, they did so much for strangers," she said. "They helped people with money, with everything they could. They gave themselves completely to others."

Rivka's parents, who reside in Afula, left for Mumbai earlier this week together with a party that included a doctor, a paramedic, and four aids. They were reunited with their grandchild, Moshe, and now plan to return with him to Israel.

For relatives of the couple, who prayed for two excruciating nights for their deliverance, it was enough to spark a fresh torrent of tears.

Gone was the joy that briefly bouyed the community when the couple's 2-year-old son, Moshe, who was carried to freedom by his Indian nanny on Thursday. Although his pants were covered with blood, the tot was unharmed.
 
His parents, however, were still inside the center when Indian commandoes staged a daring raid early Friday to rescue them from the Chabad Center. 

In Crown Heights, where he was raised and lived until 2003, relatives said they wish the authorities had gone in sooner.

"What did they gain by waiting?" asked cousin Chezky Holtzberg, 30. "These people are not like the old-time terrorists who wanted something in return. These people are just interested in chaos."
 
The Israeli-born rabbi's mother, Freida Holtzberg, prepared to fly to Mumbai.
 
One of the last people to see the Holtzbergs before the terrorist assault Wednesday was Moshe's nanny, Sandra Samuel, 44.
 
"It was terrible," she said after the attack. "There were explosions everywhere, gunfire - they tried to shoot me."
 
Samuel sais she last saw the rabbi, his wife and two others "unconscious" on the floor.
 

If you wish to contribute to the furtherance of Chabad activities in India, or in memory of Rabbi Gabi and Rivka Holzberg, please click here.

Or mail your contribution to Chabad of India, Chabad House, 170 College Ave., New Brunswick, NJ, 08901.

 

 


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