I have been a part of Chabad in Atlanta for fifteen years.

I would like to add my thoughts and prayers for a speedy recovery for all those physically and emotionally wounded by the attacks in Mumbai and express heartfelt condolences to the families of those that lost their lives, and especially to the families of the brave Shluchim, Chabad emissaries, who died al kiddush Hashem, for the sanctification of G‑d's Name.

In February 2007, a Jewish colleague and I traveled to India on a business trip. Prior to our visit I contacted Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg, head of Chabad in Mumbai. He immediately offered us Shabbat hospitality, before I had a chance to add that we were from Chabad of Atlanta. On arrival in Mumbai a few weeks later I called again to confirm our arrival and Shabbat plans and spoke with his wife Rivki who was equally hospitable and welcoming. She also offered to arrange kosher food for the duration of our visit.

After traveling in India's interior for a week we returned to Mumbai and checked into the Taj Hotel, site of one of the terror attacks. On Friday morning we took a walk to find the Chabad House to deliver a gift and ensure that come nightfall we would know where to go. We met the youthful and outgoing Rabbi Gabi, his wife Rivki and their then twelve-week-old son Moshe. Rabbi Gabi explained that Shabbat services would take place at Knesset Eliyahu Synagogue, some distance away. We later learned that Knesset Eliyahu was built in the mid 1800s, during the heyday of Mumbai's Jewish community. I asked Rabbi Gabi why he did not pray at the Chabad House. He replied that there was a small local attendance at this nearby synagogue, and that it was important for Jewish unity, and for the sake of continuity to avoid the synagogue becoming another museum, so he held most services there.

We made our arrangements for Shabbat and Rabbi Gabi insisted on escorting us to the synagogue. Friday afternoon a taxi arrived at the Taj hotel, with Rabbi Gabi dressed in his finest Shabbat attire, and we shared a short taxi ride to Knesset Eliyahu. About 40 people attended the Shabbat evening services: a large Israeli contingent consisting of businessmen and backpackers, some Australians, Brits and a few Americans. Local Indian Jews made up only six or so of the congregated. Everyone was very friendly.

After services we made our way back to the Chabad House and Rabbi Gabi made sure that everyone was comfortable. Around 25 people enjoyed the Israeli style Shabbat meal complete with very fresh and delicious chicken. Rabbi Gabi was also the shochet (ritual slaughterer) which explained the absence of the chickens we saw in the backyard earlier that morning. There was also an Indian lady who served us – I did not recall her name but recognized her immediately on TV holding Moshe, having heroically saved him and escaping the building in the midst of the terrorist attacks. It was a lively Shabbat meal and Rabbi Gabi and Rivki entertained their guests in true Chabad style as we ate, drank, and sang Chassidic songs. We returned the following day for Shabbat lunch and were treated in equally hospitable style.

This was one of my most memorable Shabbat experiences, not in any way because of the tragedy that subsequently occurred, but for zeal and commitment to the Jewish people that Rabbi Gabi and Rivki demonstrated. India, and downtown Mumbai in particular, is not for the fainthearted. There is tremendous poverty, overcrowding, and squalor. Yet the Holtzbergs created a haven for Jewish travelers catering for their physical, emotional, and spiritual needs with a place to pray, learn, eat, sleep, and relax. I know my story is by no means unique—I can only imagine how many people were touched by their kindness and hospitality.

The Rebbe, of blessed memory, once wrote that a Chabad House serves as a key to open the hearts of all who will visit it, and all who will come under its sphere of influence will open their hearts to the very core of their Jewishness. I would humbly like to suggest that one response to this tragedy would be to support not only the rebuilding of Chabad in Mumbai but to strengthen our own Chabad and all Jewish communities—so that the door to Judaism remains open to all.

Even in their short lives, Rabbi Gabi and Rivki served as extraordinary examples of what it means to lead a meaningful life—caring, loving, and giving in the most egoless selfless manner. May G‑d grant their righteous souls a place of honor in Gan Eden and may their memory be a blessing and inspiration for us all.

Trevor Horwitz, Atlanta, Georgia