I was privileged to spend Shabbat at the Chabad house in Mumbai. I was actually not planning to stop in Mumbai. I was on my way to Pushkar from Goa, and my travels got delayed. I was already on the train on Thursday night – which would get me to Pushkar on Friday afternoon – when I decided to not risk breaking Shabbat and got off. I didn’t know then that I was about to spend a very important Shabbat in Mumbai with the Holtzbergs.

As soon as I arrived at the Chabad house I felt at home. It had such a warm atmosphere. I particularly connected to Rivki. We spoke for a while. I shared with her some of my personal journey. On Shabbat there were several rabbis visiting (from the Israeli Rabbinate, regarding a divorce issue) and the chief rabbi of Sweden (if I recall correctly) was visiting as well. As well as a few other religious couples and business people... there were also a few backpackers (like myself) and a father who came to welcome his son who had just been released from an Indian jail after three years. One of the consulate members was also there with his family.

At the Shabbat meal personal stories were shared. Stories that inspired me to no end. One rabbi shared a story about having gone to the Rebbe for a blessing, and having 'rachmanut' (compassion) on him, as the Rebbe was on his feet for hours seeing his chassidim. So he shortened his request to only three words, he needed a blessing for his medical condition. It was something like: refuah (a recovery), but he left out shleima (a “complete” one). The Rebbe then gave him a blessing, but as he started to walk away the Rebbe called him—and added 'shlema'...

This Shabbat was one of my last ones in India, after five months spent there. Shortly after that I decided to return to Israel, and find my way back to Judaism. I was sooo inspired by that Shabbat, it is beyond words. The love amongst the people who were there. Rivki and Gabi and their selflessness... The stories (this is just a small taste...)

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.... all of us who were there that Shabbat felt that it was a very special Shabbat... (Maybe it was always this special...)

But I know I will never forget my experience with Gabi and Rivki and the Chabad house in Mumbai. I feel connected (especially to Rivki) and will always be grateful for their warmth and kindness.

May their souls rest in peace...

Ahuva Goldshmidt, Jerusalem, Israel