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The Long Overdue Shabbos Candles

The Long Overdue Shabbos Candles

How the Mumbai Tragedy Motivated Me to Action


One year ago on a Shabbat afternoon, my family and I were visited by my husband's out of town friend, his wife, and their children. They were in our neighborhood, and just stopped by for a friendly visit. While my house is not the most religious home on the block, we do observe Shabbat on many different levels, and personally, I don't drive or use electronic equipment. I was apologetic to our guests that I couldn't do much to entertain them in the way they were accustomed. Their response was unexpected as they said that they thought it was 'cool' that we celebrated Shabbat, and expressed an interest in having a Shabbat dinner and lighting candles once a month in their home. I was delighted with the possibility that I could actually influence someone to take on a mitzvah, and I made a mental note to buy them their first pair of candlesticks.

Life gets in the way of our good intentions... I thought of those candlesticks often. I meant to buy them many times, and wished I had bought them even more times than that. But as usually happens, life gets in the way of our good intentions, and one year later, I had still not completed my mitzvah. Then, something happened.

On Tuesday evening, December 2nd, I had the privilege of attending a memorial service for Rabbi Gavriel and Rebbetzin Rivkah Holtzberg as well as the other Jews who were murdered in the Mumbai terrorist attacks. The gathering was held at our local Chabad-Lubavitch center, and the turnout was tremendous. Jews of every affiliation, age and gender gathered to honor the memories of these righteous people.

There were people who spoke on behalf of the deceased. Some spoke words of sorrow from a place of grief and others spoke words of Torah from a place of hope. Some people spoke of the global ramifications of this event, while others gave personal accounts of their experiences with the Holtzbergs. What was most remarkable to me was the showing of a newly made video memorial of the rabbi and his wife.

The video chronicled the short lives of both Gavriel and Rivkah. There was narration set to the early part of their lives as well as live interviews with them during their time in India. It was obvious from the brief movie that the young couple was very committed to their work and even clearer that they knew this was their life's mission. The constant outreach to the local and international communities in India was so genuine and extensive. They exemplified how to live life not just for yourself, but for those around you. While raising their two year old son, Moshe, they dedicated their lives to touching others and trying to fix the world through Torah and mitzvahs.

Even in death, Rabbi Gavriel and Rivkah were still doing mitzvahs As I looked around that diverse room that evening, I realized that even in death, Rabbi Gavriel and Rivkah were still doing mitzvahs. To unite so many diverse Jews and bring them to a place of prayer is of course no small task, and it is certainly a mitzvah with spiritual implications which we cannot comprehend.

So why was I there? How did I fit into this picture, and what was I going to do to ensure that I was making my contribution to our community and our nation? For starters, I was getting that pair of candlesticks I'd been thinking about.

Ironically, I didn't even have to leave the building for them. Chabad had a complimentary Shabbat candle lighting kit at the front door.

Was it really that easy?

Yes, it was. I'm happy to say that the very next day my husband's friend was the recipient of those candlesticks. I sincerely pray those candles will be lit in the merit of Rabbi Gavriel and Rivkah Holtzberg, their surviving son Moshe, and all the innocent victims of the Mumbai attacks. May they inspire us all to do more mitzvahs so that we may continue the Holtzberg's mission of tikun olam, repairing and perfecting the world, and hasten a time when there will be eternal peace in this world.

Lori Averick lives in Merion, Pa. with her husband Brett and three children; Brooke, Noah and Gabrielle. Lori enjoys Torah study and participates regularly in local classes.
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mary Ann phoenix, az September 5, 2010

memory to share I stumbled on your story searching for guidelines Shabbat. I want to prepare a the dinner for friends who have never been to one. Since I am not Jewish but have a Jewish heart I want to make sure my intentions are right. Your story said it all, I want to share this blessing! Thank you Reply

Anonymous palm springs, ca. June 30, 2010

Thank you I too have a love for the mitzvah of candle lighting. It makes me happy to read that I am not alone. It is said that the jewish people have not kept Shabbat so much as Shabbat has kept us...thank you. Reply

Lindsay saligman April 10, 2009

great story this is a good article. the shabbis is so cool Reply

Rochel Passaic, NJ January 18, 2009

Expansive to read! Thank you Lori for writing about your experience! It gave me an injection of warmth, comfort to my sadness about what happened to Rabbi Gavriel and Rivkah Holtzberg. The tzadekim endure tremendous pain. HASHEM has HIS design. Yes, the power to bring together a diverse group of Jews is amazing! Thank you for sharing your beautiful experience! Reply

Deborah Nelson Commerce City, Co. December 29, 2008

Waht a beautiful way to remember. Most people do ask us about our jewishness but not many want to participate. So when it happens I feel G-d has moved on them already. No matter how long they stay to ask questions. I feel honored to tell the story of Sabbath, Channach, Peach, and so on. Reply

Janis Fine Bala Cynwyd, PA via December 26, 2008

To Love Your Fellow Jews As You Love Yourself Lori, you are a true example of how to love your fellow Jew. May your example be an inspiration to us all! Reply

Anonymous Brooklyn, NY December 17, 2008

Beautiful! Thank you for sharing this experience. May it inspire others to ignite the flame and spread the light the Holtzberg's HY"D left with us. Reply

Nili Couzens Bala Cynwyd, pa December 15, 2008

LORI IS AWESOME! This is just the beginning of all that Lori has to offer the Jewish community. Can't wait to see the next installment... Reply

judy jutcovich wynnewood, PA December 14, 2008

Lori Averick Lori, Your story is touching and moving. It gives me pause to think about good intentions I too have not fulfilled. You are inspiring and keep the articles coming! Reply

Welcome to our candle-lighting section, where you will find the details and practicalities of lighting Shabbat candles, along with the meaning, spirituality and power of doing so . . .
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