The terrorists took the lives of Rabbi Gavriel (Gabi) and Rivkah (Rivky) Holtzberg, but all the guns and grenades in the world cannot put a dent in the ideals that the Holtzbergs embodied. Gabi and Rivky dedicated their lives to helping others and increasing light in Mumbai—and their work will certainly be continued. In fact, their work has not stopped.

On the Shabbat after the attack, Chabad-Lubavitch already organized a Shabbat gathering for visiting Jewish travelers at a local hotel in Mumbai. Rabbi Dov Goldberg, a friend of the Holtzbergs who had assisted Gabi, and who was at the time the acting director of the Chabad House in Goa, led the emotional services and meals for tens of people.

Shortly later, Rabbi Avraham Berkowitz, former executive director of the Federation of Jewish Communities of the Former Soviet Union, was appointed as director of the Chabad Mumbai Relief Fund, leading the global campaign to rebuild Chabad of Mumbai. His mission: to ensure the continuity of Gabi and Rivky's life service.

Long-term plans had yet to crystallize, but less than a month after the murders, Chabad was back for Chanukah festivities. On the holiday that celebrates the triumph of light, they were there to bring light to the city of Mumbai, where terrorists had taken the lives of not only the two Chabad emissaries and their guests but hundreds of others as well.

The evening's events began with the lighting of a restored 25-foot steel menorah outside of the destroyed Chabad House. Rabbi Nachman Holtzberg, father of Gavriel Holtzberg, lit the menorah, and an estimated 200 people gathered in front of the building.

An hour later, more than 600 people congregated at the Gateway of India monument – the giant arch near the Taj Mahal Hotel where investigators believe the terrorists entered the city – to witness Rabbi Shimon Rosenberg, father of Rivky, light an almost identical menorah. This was also the site where the Holtzbergs had erected a menorah every year. Onlooker Shameera Galsura, 23, a member of Mumbai's local Jewish community, said that the ceremony was the perfect antidote to the fear that pervaded her city. "People here are all talking about the menorah."

Click here to view a photo gallery of the public lighting, and here to watch a video of the event.

Rabbi Shimon Rosenberg, father of Rivka Holtzberg, lights the menorah at Mumbai’s Gateway to India.
Rabbi Shimon Rosenberg, father of Rivka Holtzberg, lights the menorah at Mumbai’s Gateway to India.

Without missing a beat, come Passover, Chabad sent rabbinical students to serve the community and tourists. On the eve of Passover, they joined the local community for a Blessing of the Sun gathering, and afterwards they held an emotional Blessing of the Sun gathering at the former Chabad House. That night, they conducted a Seder.

Chezzie Denebeim, one of the rabbinical students, writes about the Seder that "the overwhelming feedback was joy that Chabad is still functioning despite everything that has happened… The Holtzbergs were a beacon of light and warmth in a dark world, but on a more practical level, they were literally a home to Jews from all over… One local Indian Jewish doctor and his family ate with us. He was close with the Holtzbergs, and he told us that he felt orphaned since the attack. But to see Chabad continue like before, it gives him back his soul a little."

To read more of Chezzie's account, click here.

Unfortunately, the security situation in India continues to be tenuous today. As such, though Chabad is currently running regular programs and activities in Mumbai, continuing the holy work of Gabi and Rivky, many details are still being considered. Come what may, though, Gabi and Rivky's torch will not be allowed to fall.

Click here to read a firsthand account of Chabad's continued activities in Mumbai.