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Since their arrival to India, Rabbi Gabi and Rivkah Holtzberg have served their local community, as well as the international community, with great devotion and selflessness. Many, many people have been impacted by them during their time in India, as well as during earlier portions of their lives. If you have any such experiences, please share them with the rest of us here.

Sharing Memories

Sharing Memories


Since their arrival to India, Rabbi Gabi and Rivkah Holtzberg have served their local community, as well as the international community, with great devotion and selflessness. Many, many people have been impacted by them during their time in India, as well as during earlier portions of their lives.

If you have any such experiences, please share them with the rest of us via the Post A Comment feature below (where you will also find shorter, vignette-style memories).

Moshe was only one and a half years old and he spent most of the meals attempting to get rice and puréed vegetables all over himself and anyone that ventured too close...
I thought I knew my brother. I was proven wrong during the week of shiva and the difficult days that followed, as incredible stories kept pouring in about him and his wife Rivky...
We reached the rooftop deck, where commandos landed and stormed the house in a vain attempt to rescue hostages. Amidst the rubble from the destruction of this holy place where innocent lives had been taken, we read the Book of Lamentations...
The way in which everything was done gave me the feeling that we were being filmed or something because he was just so enthusiastic. I could not believe in that moment how beautiful it all was; and just for me..
The storm began when at eighteen, Bhagirath, emerging from his sheltered childhood, began to question his religious roots. Every home he’d visit boasted several idols . . .
Having her pray for me as I went in made me feel that everything would be alright and that all was right with the world. I had no idea that years later the world would become very, very wrong...
Today my tears flow freely as I write these memories. Who would have thought that in these very rooms filled with love and light, hate and darkness would end the lives of my dear friends?
Every guest at the Holtzberg’s table left with the odd (but special) feeling that we had somehow done our hosts an incredible favor by coming!
Gabi just said, “Let’s jump over the wall,” which was six feet high. A very minor impediment when you consider what he faced throughout his five-year period in Mumbai . . .
Entering the Chabad House was like encountering a lighthouse in the middle of a dark ocean. It did not take long to realize that its proprietors, Rabbi Gavriel and Rivkah Holtzberg, were extraordinary people and practitioners of kindness.
We keep going back to the small things. So many people have written about the big things—how they dedicated their lives to serving Jews, etc.—but Gabi and Rivki, as we knew them, were also people with unique thoughts, habits, idiosyncrasies, stories, personalities...
I remember the horrible images I saw on television. But I am fortunate that I also have the positive memories. I remember the smiles of the rabbi and his wife as their baby crawled all over the place...
This was one of my most memorable Shabbat experiences, not in any way because of the tragedy that subsequently occurred, but for zeal and commitment to the Jewish people that Rabbi Gabi and Rivki demonstrated.
Rabbi Holtzberg, when I spoke to you on Tuesday / You were so accommodating / "I would never want to be a stranded Jew in India" / Those were your words...
By the end of the night, we had all forgotten that we had arrived strangers and that we were in a strange land. This is all because of Rivky and Gabi...
They never preached, never suggested that I or anyone else practice Judaism in any particular way, and never judged. They simply wanted it understood that their home was always open, and I was always wanted and welcome...
For some reason or another, I had taken for granted the fact that a Chabad house existed in the middle of nowhere. I had taken for granted the fact that kosher wine was shipped to house in three gallon plastic jugs, all the way from Israel...
I have made it my own committment to do whatever I can to help rebuild Chabad House in Mumbai in memory of Rav Gaby and Rebezin Rivky Holtzberg,
Dr. Sherwin Isenberg describes his Shabbat at the Chabad House in Mumbai the week before the murders.
Video | 2:15
Heroes of Mumbai
This song was written and recorded on the night we learned of the tragedy, in loving memory of the sacred souls who perished in the Mumbai terrorist attack in the Chabad House.
He told me simply and sharply that if the terrorists were to come, "be my guest, because I'm not leaving this place."
We can all put our grief, our disbelief, our desire to do something into action—and we must do it quickly. Send money to a Jewish cause. Spend some time telling your parents, children, and friends how much you love them...
Everything was possible with Rabbi Gavriel and Rivki, thanks to their wonderful optimism in the face of the adversity of India's day-to-day life. Thanks to their love of life and energy, their consideration of others and their selfless work.
How does one deal with a wedding and a terrorist attack on the same day--both so close to home? While my sister and her husband began a journey of love and commitment, the couple who knew a love and a commitment to a calling beyond themselves were under attack.
The scene was surreal. On the roof of an old hotel in Mumbai on a Friday night, surrounded by peaceful Hindus we sat and spoke on a roof-top overseeing the famous Gateway of India.
Rivki told me "when you have faith, you believe that G-d puts challenges in front of you, and tests your faith, sometimes you may not understand why things happen but that does not mean you should lose faith..."
We were really overwhelmed with warmness from them and for what they do for all the strangers that come in and out of their home.
They were the epitomy of what a real "Tzaddik" is. They helped spread Jewish life, and Jewish pride in an area where few Jews permenantly live.
Gabi and Rivki were real for me. We often hear about tragedies in distant, disconnected places, and feel frustratingly estranged from them. We want to connect, but cant; we feel as though in a different world.
I bragged about how lucky I was to be placed in a location where I am a twenty minute cab ride away from being home away from home.
I am a Jew residing in Mumbai who was a close friend of Rabbi Gavriel and his family. I have been shattered by the news that I won't be ever seeing my dear Rabbi and his wife again, but I know that they will surely live on in my heart and soul forever.
I realize it is no small sacrifice to leave your family behind, move to a foreign country less suited for living an observant lifestyle, and build a home open entirely to serve the needs of others.
Rabbi Gabi and Rebbetzin Rivka's dedication to their service of G-d was unflinching.
They will live on in our memories as a vital vivacious couple, young enough to be my children, with an outreach capacity far ahead of their youth.
On my way to Pushkar on Saturday night I was filled with the most elevated, peaceful feeling, which left me wondering: where did that come from? I was amazed by the feeling of inner peace and joy I was feeling... I realized, and now I know, that it was the holiness that I picked up at the Chabad house in Mumbai...
I had a fun time on the beaches of Goa and in the small towns, but when I got to Mumbai, a city of 15 million, I was overwhelmed....
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Discussion (79)
November 30, 2016
Like many others, I met Gavriel and Rivka z"l about 6 months before their passing. Their shabbos table was amazing.
Leah G
November 17, 2009
Visit by Canada's Prime Minister
I am proud that my country's Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, was so moved by the sad events at Chabad House, Mumbai, that he took time to pay his respects during a trade mission to India last week.

It is difficult to imagine that these events would not touch the hearts of all world leaders; but, this does not seem to be so.
Vancouver, Canada
November 17, 2009
Rabbi Gavriel Noach Holtzberg and his wife, Rivka
The horror presently occurring in Mumbai clashes poignantly with the wonderful memories of the recent trips my daughter Jennifer and I have experienced throughout India.

In particular, we fondly remember celebrating Purim in Mumbai March 2007, and participating in services at Chabad House officiated by Rabbi Holtzberg. It had been so refreshing to spend the holiday with Jewish Indians of all different denominations along with several other tourists.

It is so mind-boggling to fathom what the families of these dear people are going through. It is so unbelievable to consider how criminality has come to overpower in such a way that good, innocent people have to be treated in this manner.

Our most sincere and warmest condolences to the families of Rabbi Holtzberg and his dear wife.

With deepest sympathy,
Pablo Nankin,M.D. and family
Pablo Nankin
Beverly Hills, CA United States
September 30, 2009
I grew up with Gavi
I used to go to the same shul as Gavi when I was younger. He had a very brilliant mind and was smart but now he's a messenger for G-d and he watches over us from the heavens above.
Simcha Shmuel
Brooklyn, NY
February 22, 2009
בית קברות
ביקור בהודו; המטרה: להעביר את גופת הסבא המנוח לארץ ישראל.

לפני כ-70 שנה, ניפטר הסבא בנימין בן משה בבומביי בהודו, שם ניקבר בבית הקברות היהודי. לפני כשנתיים, ביקרו רוני ואירית יקותיאל בבומביי,

שם ניפגשו עם גבריאל ז"ל בבית חב"ד, שסיפר להם שעומדים להרוס את בית העלמין היהודי בבומביי. בשובם מהודו, הציעו לבני המשפחה לנסות

ולהעביר את גופת הסבא לארץ ישראל. המשפחה הזמינה מקום קבורה בהר המנוחות, ושליח מחברת קדישא מירושלים, יחד עם הנכדים: בנימין,

דניאל ורוני, טסו לבומביי. הם לא רצו להטריח את גבריאל מבית חב"ד, שהיה רב צעיר מדאי לדעתם, אבל גבריאל התעקש ללכת איתם לבית העלמין,

ואכן, עד מהרה הבינו שאי אפשר היה לבצע את המשימה בלעדיו. ירדו גשמים רבים אשר הפכו את האדמה לבוצית, ובכל פעם שניסו לחפור, הבור

היה מתמלא מים ומנע את המשך החפירה. עד מהרה, הגיע השליח של חברת הקדישא מירושלים למסקנה, שחפירת הקבר אינה ניתנת לביצוע.

אבל גבריאל ז"ל התעקש; הוא הלך להשיג משאבה עם כבל ארוך כ-300 מטר (שיגיע למקום בו יש חיבור לזרם החשמל), ואז החלו לשאוב את המים

שהצטברו. רק אז יכלו להתחיל ולחפור, והמבצע הוכתר בהצלחה. בשובם למילנו, סיפרו בני המשפחה בהתרגשות, כיצד הודות לשליח הצעיר של

חב"ד בבומביי, גבריאל – יהי זכרו ברוך- זכו להביא את סבא למנוחה בארץ הקודש...

משפחת נסימיהא
Benyamin Nassimiha
Milan, Italy
December 27, 2008
Spending Erev Shabbat with Holzbergs
My wife, Susan, and I spent a beautiful Friday evening at the Chabad House in January. We met Rabbi Gabi at Kabbalat Shabbat services in a beautiful shul in downtown Mumbai and he insisted we and others come back to the Chabad House for Shabbat dinner. It was a spectacular evening with 50 or more people there all sharing a common bond and all treated to such warm and beautiful hospitality. Gabi and Rivka couldn't have been better hosts and made everyone feel so good and so at home. You knew instantly this was a very special couple and messengers from G-d. We mourn this tragic loss and know their memories will be an inspiration to all who had the special opportunity to get to know them for even just a short period of time. May their souls rest in peace knowing how many people they inspired to be better and more caring individuals and Jews.
Bob Mednick
Chicago, Illinois USA
December 14, 2008
On the last night of Chanuka 2005 we went to the gateway of India to see the candles being lit. This was organised by Gabbi and Rivky. We then were taken in a horse and carriage with a huge menorah to the Chabad house where we had a lovely dinner cooked by Rivky
Zoe Hillman
December 12, 2008
Rivka: known for her strong faith
Some years ago we had a baby who was born ill. The doctors tried to save him, but unfortunately could not. Afterward, with time and healing, I began to think about having another child, but I was afraid to have this happen again; I lacked a certain level of faith in G-d and what He choses is good. I sought advice and words of encouragement. I was adviced to call Rivky Holtzberg, for she had faced similar challenges and was known for her strong emunah, faith. I did not call her, for I did not want to make her speak about an obviously painful experience, but I did feel strengthen from the mere knowledge that another woman could be strong during such times. We did have another baby, and, also called him Moshe,

My deep condolesces to their families and to little Moshe.
May G-d send us Moshiach immediately, when we will then understand why He choses to do what He does.
Bracha Bettoun
Merion Station, PA, USA
December 11, 2008
Beacon of Light
On Thursday the 27th November 2008, when we heard that Nariman House in Mumbai was taken over by terrorists, my husband my two daughters and myself were beside ourselves with grief and prayed and prayed for the safe release of Gaby and Rifka Holtzberg and all at Chabad House.

Sadly this did not happen and our hearts were shattered at their tragic and needless murder - I asked my husband how could any human being do what these terrorists did to all at Chabad House to which he answered they are not human even animals do not kill needlessly—they kill only for food.

We were on holiday in India last December/January and while in Mumbai had the privilege of being welcomed by Rifka and Gaby into their home where we experienced first hand their great kindness, warmth and hospitality.

It was very special to be able to sit at their table and meet Jews from all over the world, enjoy Rifka's delicious food and listen to Gaby's words of Torah.

Gaby and Rifka were a very special couple, they gave of themselves unselfishly and we were very impressed at the amazing work they were doing. They were like a BEACON OF LIGHT for all the Jewish people in Mumbai and all those passing through.

May their light always continue to shine.

Our heartfelt condolences to both their families at their terrible loss and may G-d help their son Moshe whom we remember as such a happy adorable child.
Rochelle Sassoon
London, England
December 9, 2008
Will Miss You Rivki….. Till We Meet Again
We met on Sunday the 23rd 2008, at 7.15 pm at the Tepheret Israel Synagogue in Mumbai for a religious custom. She was there waiting for me along with a friend and her bundle of joy her little son Moshe tucked on her waist in her usual manner. Her pleasant persona, warm disposition and above all her welcoming smile brought in an instant sense of calm within me. She was my friend Rivki who I lost at `Chabad House’, which was a focal point of Jewish culture, tradition and life. She along with her husband Rabbi Gavriel came to Mumbai from the US as a breath of fresh air. They were young, extremely hardworking and committed and ready to extend their helping hand to the Indian Jewry and Jewish expatriates who would visit Mumbai on a regular bases.

It is Mumbai’s loss.

May G-d grant their soul eternal rest. Amen
Mumbai, India
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Special section to remember the cruel murders of Gavriel (Gabi) and Rivky Holtzberg, beloved directors of Chabad of Mumbai. The story of the Holtzbergs' legacy of light.
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