The events of the last few days in Mumbai have been shocking. For me, it has probably hit closer to home than any other terrorist attack anywhere in the world, for I once had the pleasure and honour of meeting and knowing two of the victims, Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his wife Rivka.

Rabbi and Rebbetzin Holtzberg were the Chabad representatives to Mumbai, India. They had made a massive sacrifice to leave behind all the comforts of the Western World to head a small and diminishing, yet close-knit community of Jews in Mumbai, as well as to be a religious presence for the many Jews that pass through Mumbai every year.

In mid-December of 2005, I found myself in Mumbai, with two other friends as travellers. We found ourselves at the synagogue on Shabbat. Within minutes of noticing people in the synagogue that clearly were not locals, Rabbi Holtzberg was asking us our names, where we were from etc., and we were soon invited back to the Chabad House, which doubled as his family home, for Shabbat dinner following the service.

Along with the few other travellers that joined us for the Shabbat meal at the Chabad house, we were made to feel at home by Rabbi Holtzberg and his wife Rivka. It was evenings like that one, where complete strangers came together as Jews that made us really appreciate who we are as a people and what a close knit community of people we are, all over the world.

Rabbi Holtzberg made it perfectly clear to us that we were welcome to join him and his family for dinner every night that we were in Mumbai, and if we wanted to stop by during the day to learn with him, we could. At no point was there ever any judgement from him or his wife because we weren't religious, or didn't speak fluent Hebrew like most of the visitors in the Chabad House. They were just exceptional people, who offered the same level of kind hospitality to all fellow Jews.

They were the epitomy of what a real "tzaddik" is. They ran Hebrew schools for the local Jewish community, officiated at weddings and circumcisions. They helped spread Jewish life, and Jewish pride in an area where few Jews permenantly live. They provided all Jews in Mumbai, whether residents or travellers, somewhere safe, and somewhere to call their own as Jews.

It was evenings like that one, where complete strangers came together as Jews that made us really appreciate who we are as a people.

On Wednesday evening, November 26th, 2008, the Mumbai Chabad House was one of many targets attacked by a group calling themselves the Deccan Mujahadin. My thoughts and prayers were with Rabbi and Rebbetzin Holtzberg, their children and whoever was in the house with them. Whilst we still do not know how many people perished, we do know for certain that the lives of Rabbi and Rebbetzin Holtzberg ended soon after. Luckily their youngest son was rushed from the house by a house keeper, saving his life. The Holtzbergs are survived by their two children, who have now been left as orphans.

We never got to say our formal good-byes to the Holtzberg's before leaving Mumbai. We had been invited once again to their house for dinner the night before we left, as well as for a farbrengen to celebrate the anniversary of the release of the first Chabad Rebbe from prison. We had planned, and wanted to go to say our good-byes. We had been out of Mumbai that day being extras in a Bollywood movie, and in the typical fashion in India, we were returned back to the Colaba area five hours later than we were told we would be, which, given that it was after midnight, meant we could not go to the Chabad House.

I had planned to write them a letter of support, and belated thanks once they were safely rescued from the Chabad House compound. That now is not possible. Their kindness to all around them, their hospitality and their deeds and achievements will be forgotten by none that ever had the honour of knowing them. The world needs more people like Rabbi Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg and the world is now a lesser place with out them. I only had the honour of knowing them for just a few days, but they have left a lasting impression on me that will never go away.

Rest in peace,

Phillip Nash