To the families of Gavriel and Rivky Holtzberg:

I am one of the Jewish tourists that Gabi and Rivky made it their life's work to welcome and assist in India. While I was traveling in Mumbai in August of this year, I found a warm and happy refuge in the Chabad house. I was traveling alone for half of my trip and I was incredibly grateful to be able to spend several hours with other Jews and enjoy a kosher meal. I remember eating dinner with Rivky, sharing stories and practicing my Hebrew, and playing with Moshe.

When I left their home, I remember I experienced a little shock because of the contrast between the strange streets of Mumbai and the warmth, familiarity and comfort I had just left behind. Religion is everywhere in India-the cities are filled with temples, statues and almost daily festivals celebrating Hinduism, Sikhism, Christianity and Islam. The time I spent with the Holtzbergs and with Mumbai’s strong Jewish community was an incredibly powerful experience. I felt so much pride to be Jewish in this country with citizens of faiths so different from my own.

When my friend from New York arrived the following day, I brought her back with me to meet the Holtzbergs. Again, we were welcomed like family and made to feel at home. The Rabbi even gave us some guidance on how to structure the remainder of our trip through Northern India and observe Shabbat while traveling.

After having spent a month in India, 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. I have utmost gratitude and respect for the work that Chabad Shluchim do in India and around the world. I wanted you to know how Gabi and Rivky were able to touch my life and that I am grieving with you.

Baruch dayan haemet

Sarah Katz, New York City, USA