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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).

Evan A. Heltay, Toronto, Canada
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...
Rikal Kaler
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...
Hillary Lewin
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...
Nathan Azize, Munich, Germany
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 Holtzbergs’ role in Bhagirath Prasad’s long journey home
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...
Baruch Shalom Davidson
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?
David Bogner
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!
Samuel Marshall
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 . . .
Rabbi Joseph Telushkin
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.
Reuben Posner and Leila Bilick
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...
Ed Handelsman
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...
Trevor Horwitz, Atlanta, Georgia
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.
Pesha Leah Azoulay, Brooklyn, NY
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...
Valerie Porush
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...
David Perla
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...
Louis Allan Krieger
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...
Gary Spund
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
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.
Hillary Lewin
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...
Raphael Altman
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.
Batya Rotter
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.
Corinne Marlen
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..."
Amy Caron-Shif, Tel Aviv, Israel
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.
Phillip Nash
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.
Benjamin Holtzman
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.
Olga Daniela Bakayeva
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.
Elias (Eliyahu) Samuel Ghosalkar, Mumbai
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.
Sarah Katz, New York City
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.
Gilad Bar-Chaim, Johannesburg, South Africa
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.
Ahuva Goldshmidt, Jerusalem, Israel
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...
Robin, Chapel Hill, NC
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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Leah G Charlotte November 30, 2016

Like many others, I met Gavriel and Rivka z"l about 6 months before their passing. Their shabbos table was amazing. Reply

Anonymous Vancouver, Canada 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. Reply

Pablo Nankin Beverly Hills, CA United States 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

Simcha Shmuel Brooklyn, NY via 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. Reply

Benyamin Nassimiha Milan, Italy via 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 Reply

Bob Mednick Chicago, Illinois USA via 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. Reply

Zoe Hillman London December 14, 2008

Chanuka 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 Reply

Bracha Bettoun Merion Station, PA, USA 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. Reply

Rochelle Sassoon London, England via 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. Reply

Reema Mumbai, India 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 Reply

Avital December 9, 2008

Warmth and openess Last March, too, I worked in Mumbai for 4 weeks. I missed going to Friday Night services. My boss allowed me to go, provided that he came with me.

When we arrived at the Chabad House, I lighted candles.

Meanwhile, Gavriel started to count the men in the room, to check if there was minyan yet. As he took into account my boss, I told him in Hebrew "you cannot count him." Gavriel asked me "He's not Jewish?" I answered "No. He's my boss. He wouldn't let me come here alone."
Gavriel nodded. And we all went to the old "Blue" Synagogue of Mumbai, where he celebrated the Shabbat services (in the presence of His Excellence the Ambassador of Israel in India).
On my side, at the service, was a young Israeli girl. She and her 4 friends were hoteled "full board" at the Chabad House during Shabbat. As we talked, she said "it is the first time of my life I celebrate Shabbat".
Here we were: Non-orthodox Jews, non-Jews at all... and still were warmly welcomed by Gavriel and Rivka since we needed a Jewish nest!

My thoughts go to their families, and all the victims throughout the world. Sharing your loss, Reply

Richard & Monica Myerson Liverpool, UK December 7, 2008

We are so sorry we cannot be with you for the memorial service on Sunday but want to share our precious memories of Rivkah and Gavriel Holtzberg.

Last December, Richard and I, together with Barbara and Mike Rubinstein, went to India. I had e-mailed the Chabad House in advance to say when we would be in Mumbai and received an immediate reply to say that dinner was served every evening followed by Maariv and we would be most welcome- there was no need to let them know in advance!

Once we arrived in Mumbai, we asked our tour-guide if she knew where the Chabad House was, and after our tour of the shuls of Mumbai she showed us exactly where it was and the landmarks to look out for when we went back in the evening, as it really was just up an alleyway. Anyway we did find it and we had the most wonderful evening.  There were business men from Israel, mainly the diamond business, a couple of other tourists and a number of young Israelis who were backpacking round India. We had a fabulous meal and the opportunity to talk to one of the Israelis who told us how he came every month on business and stayed there at the Chabad House- the bedrooms were as good as any 4-star hotel. After dinner Richard and Mike went to Maariv, whilst Barbara and I, sat and chatted with Rivkah. We also met little Moshe who was running aroud smiling at everyone.  After Maariv the boys also had the opportunity to talk with Rabbi Holtzberg in his study about the Jewish community in Mumbai and the work he was doing there.

They really were an exceptional couple, who provided a home away from home for so many people religious or non-religious. For me, seeing so many young Israelis there was especially important-when our children travel around the world it is so vital that they can connect with their Jewishness, and I know they did a lot of work where drugs were an issue. They really were an exceptional couple who gave up the comfort of living in a Jewish environment to serve others in a place so far removed from home. May their souls find eternal peace. Reply

rina December 7, 2008

yom kippur i am an israeli currently living in mumbai for business purposes...i had the big privilege to spent this past yom kippur with gaby and rivka and i am so glad i had this chance..i stayed there for two days and they did everything to make me feel comfortable and at home...after the fast was over we had a meal i sat with gaby and rivka at table was the last time i would ever see them ..i kept thinking that i should go again...and then the terror attack happened ..i was watching the news here just hoping to hear that they made it out safely ..this is so sad...they were truly on a mission ...there to assist jews in any problem ..after yom kiipur i did call chabad house once becuase i wanted to ask gaby for the israeli consulate number...i just cant believe that they are gone... Reply

Jeffrey Sokoloff Brookline, MA December 6, 2008

A memorable Shabbat in Mumbai Four years ago, I attended a professional conference in India. I decided to spend the Shabbat before my conference in Mumbai. As a result, I had my Shabbat meals with the Holtzbergs and I went with Rabbi Holtzberg to one of the shuls in Mumbai. When I say that I had my Shabbat meals with the Hotzbergs, there were an additional 30 guests Friday night. It was apparent to me that the Holtzbergs served Shabbat meals every week to a large number of guests. Most of the guests were young Israelis (mostly nonreligious) who travel to places such India and Thailand upon completion of their military service. In addition, there was a diamond merchant, who regularly travels to Mumbai from Israel on business and a retired Israeli couple. It was quite clear to me that although many of the young Israelis were not personally religious, they felt very much at home with the Holtzbergs. The seemed to consider the Holtzbergs’ apartment, which at the served as the Chabad house at that time, as their “home away from home.” The Holtzbergs will be missed, especially by the many young Israelis who felt at home in the apartment that served as both the Hotzbergs’ home and Chabad House of Mumbai. Reply

Rivkah Haskin Lansing, Michigan, USA December 5, 2008

Change in a kind soul My fiance spoke with Rav Gavriel on the phone more than once as well as emailing/ I still do not know what the two talked about, but Marcus was deeply changed, much for the better. Something deeply troubling him was relieved after speaking with the man... and we were invited to visit in the following months when we traveled for Marcus' work. Now it will be a memorial trip. And we are still looking forward to it. Reply

Venetia Kalinko Sydney, Australia December 4, 2008

Rosh Hashana 2007 My husband Stan and I celebrated Rosh Hashana in Mumbai 2007. First Night, a large group followed the Rabbi 'pied piper ' style from the synagogue through the streets to Chabad House for dinner. The Rabbi said he'd like to make a little detour as he may pick up some others wanting to join in the celebrations. We came across a man from Hong Kong who travels to mumbai often, and was so excited to see the Rabbi. Said he was lost and couldn't find Nariman House.
The Rabbi was chuffed that he had 'found 'another dinner guest. When we arrived at Chabad house we saw that the room had just recently been renovated in time for the festive season. The tables where set beautifully with bows on the chair backs, festive cloths for about 100 people. I asked the Rabbi why they had set for so many, as there were only about 35 guests there.
He replied "if we set for 100 then 100 will come.' As the evening progressed people kept coming, it was filled to capacity! Jews from all parts of the world.
It was memorable, and we will not forget the kind hospitality shown to us by the Rabbi and Rebbetzin. May their dear souls rest in peace. Reply

Ilana Hamilton and Jemma Jacobs London, England December 4, 2008

Rosh Hashana with the Holtzbergs Intermittently over the last few days waves of sadness and despair have washed over me.

For me, this act of terrorism in Mumbai, India, wasn't just a tragic loss of life, but it was also the loss of a wonderful couple, a family that I knew. About 4 years ago, a friend and I backpacked around India for a month. Every Shabbat we endeavoured to be with a Chabad family and over Rosh Hashanah we decided to be in Mumbai. Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his wife Rivki were helpful from the very start, replying to our emails and helping us decide where to stay.

But it was their warmth, hospitality and inspiration during our time in Colaba, Mumbai, that most stood out. They assuaged the anxieties of our parents, opened our eyes to the fact that Tashlich is not done with bread- since you don't feed fish on Shabbat or Yom Tov, introduced us to the novelty of sieving flour with an electric sieve, and nurtured my interest in insect checking!

I remember 1st night Rosh Hashanah Rabbi Gavriel was making Kiddush for all of their guests on the roof-top terrace. Next door to us was another hotel, with a restaurant on the roof. Some Israelis happened to hear Kiddush; they hadn't realised it was Rosh Hashanah and they left the restaurant to join us for the Yom Tov meal. This was a delicious meal comprising of chickens slaughtered by Gavriel. It also included beef, a rare delicacy in India, where you can't kill cows. The Holtzbergs preferred to share this luxury with their guests rather than save it for themselves.

Not only did we learn from, and with this wonderful couple, but we stayed in contact afterwards. Our stay in Mumbai and our spiritually uplifting Rosh Hashanah in India would not have been the same without them. Reply

Gamaliel Isaac Highland Park, NJ December 3, 2008

Kindness My wife and I and baby daughter spent 2 shabbat dinners at the Chabad House. Rivka gave us her stroller to put our baby in while we were there and she gave us Israeli diaper cream for our baby. When our baby started crying and interrupting Rabbi Gavriel's Dvar Torah I took the baby out of the room and she followed me and said to me that babies cry and that it's all right for us to stay. I didn't stay but I was surprised and her kindness.
Rabbi Holzberg's Dvar Torah was about Noah and the flood and he asked why did God allow man become so evil that he had to have a flood? Why didn't he just make man good. If I understood him correctly he made the argument that God gave man the choice so man could choose good as well. After the outrageous murder of the Rabbi and his wife and guests I have another explanation and that is that there is a message in the bible to be severe with terrorists because if you aren't they will strike you. You need to strike first. We can't wait till terrorists come for us. If Chabad and the rest of us want to honor the memories of the Holzberg's we need to encourage our governments to strike at the terrorists before they can strike again. Reply

Ruby & Rephael Rohekar Mumbai, India via December 3, 2008

Dedicated couple Rabbi Gabriel Holtzberg and his wife Rivka were very loving and helpful couple. They were known for their hospitality towards the Jewish travellers who came from around the world.

They interacted with the Jews of Mumbai to know and understand their problems and various difficulties they faced in their observance. Earlier, the Jewish women used a mikve where there was no hot water. The women dipped themselves in cold water during winter too. Rav Gabriel faced a lot of difficulties before he got permission to construct a mikve in Mumbai. With his determination and perseverance he built a small but beautiful mikve with heater. He and Rivka personally took care of the mikve maintenance, cleaning it themselves and keeping it always fit for use.

Kosher food items are not available in Mumbai. Rav Gabriel arranged to get a lot of kosher items for all those observant people who needed them. He arranged every year Lulav and Ethrog for Succoth for individuals as well as the Synagogues.

Rabbi and his wife were always willing to help and guide the Jewish community members who needed their advise and guidance. Their contribution to the Jewish community of Mumbai will always be remembered.

We pray that G-d gives their family members strength to overcome this disaster. They will be missed very much by the Jewish community of Mumbai whose lives they have touched.

May their souls rest in peace. Reply

Ben Adler Houston, Texas December 3, 2008

November 8- Shabbos with the Holtzberg's As you know, I had the privilege to be with Rabbi Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg during my stay in India over Shabbat (Nov 8th). I cannot explain the grief and sorrow that this horrific act of brutality and senseless murder has had on so many. This evening we are having a Memorial Service at the Chabad House in Houston and they have asked me to talk about the Holtzbergs, as I was one of the last visitors to have met them.

I can only say that they were pure individuals who have shown me kindness and hospitality as I was only a stranger that happened to need a Shabbat meal. There were over 20 guests on the Shabbat I attended (which is a small number by what I was told). It was open to young and old, Ashkenazi, Sephardic, Chassidim - Lubavitch and non-Lubavitch - just an open door to walk in and join (with no payment required). They were there for me, for us, and anyone who needed a meal, a place to stay, spirtual and emotional support. They performed weddings, the Rabbi was a Mohel, a shochet and everything else that needed to be done. They served meals every evening at 8 o'clock free of charge.

As you may imagine, it is very hard to come by kosher food in India. It is not Brooklyn! Nor is it Paris. Nothing in the stores will come with a hechsher, so it was quite challenging to put a kosher meal on the table. Rivka came across as very energetic and had a can do attitude, and was always orchestrating the feeding of all of us, yet she found time to sit beside her husband and socialize with the guests. I have this clear picture in my mind of them seated on this big table with Rivka sitting beside her husband and the baby (Moshe that was saved by the housekeeper) in between them. I recognized the housekeeper when I viewed it on the news channels as she carried the little boy out of the building. I also recognized the other housekeeper who was just to the right of the housekeeper and Moshe when I viewed the news coverage.

I cannot imagine what went on inside the walls of Nariman House during the siege, as the Chabad House was called. On the first floor, there was a large room in the front and two rooms in the back. That is where we ate. On the second floor was the synagogue in the front, and 2 offices in the back. The Holtzberg's lived on the third floor, and there were rooms for guests on the fourth. I remember going up the stairs and seeing all the floors. I also remember that the building was fully detached because there was a bathroom with a window on one side, the front and back had windows, and the other side was also opened. I knew that the only way they would be able to make a rescue is from the roof! I do not think that the Indian forces were sufficently trained and seasoned to perform a rescue. They claim that the Rabbi was alive till the end and that Rivka died in the early stages of the siege. The truth will hopefully come out soon.

Just wanted you to know that this is the best I remember being there. Reply

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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