The day after Thanksgiving, upon hearing the outcome of the events in Mumbai, a Jewish friend commented that the world thinks that "Jewish blood is cheap." We had just learned that among the victims found in the Chabad Jewish center targeted by the terrorists, was the young couple who ran it, Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg of Brooklyn, and his wife, Rivka. They were the Chabad-Lubavitch emissaries in Mumbai who ran the its Jewish center.

There was one fact that I was sure had escaped the fanatic jihadists who perpetrated the tragedyThat night, I found little solace in my sleep; I felt sick and disturbed. The next morning I second-guessed going to synagogue. In a compromise with myself I showed up late. Everyone else had arrived on time—which is rare. It was in the embarrassment of disturbing men swaying in prayer that I realized that although details of the event hadn't fully materialized, there was one fact that I was sure had escaped the fanatic jihadists who perpetrated the tragedy. I would like to share it with you.

Like every totalitarian movement that came before it, hatred of liberty and Jews is the foundation of contemporary jihadism (not to be mistaken for the tradition of Islam or its canonical prescriptions). Adherents to the ideology share the presumption that the modern world is incompatible with traditional religiosity; to them, the modern world is built on concepts that pollute: reason, individual liberty, democracy, pluralism. And so, the brittle fanatic minds that countenanced the Mumbai massacre were too inept to have realized the irony and paradox of their target.

The precepts that governed the Chabad center have their roots in the teachings of the philosopher/rabbi the Alter Rebbe (founder of the Chabad Lubavitch movement). He taught his followers that G‑d desires the development of the mind and heart. A fully realized human intellect, he argued, was built on chochma (knowledge), bina (understanding) and da'at (wisdom); and to say that you love G‑d you must being able to say that you love every human being, because they are one in the same. It was by the impetus of seventh Rebbe to the Chabad dynasty, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, that Gavirel and Rivka left the comfort and safety of America to start a Jewish center in Mumbai. Their Rebbe taught that we must all work to "bring heaven down to earth"; to make the mundane holy by involving it in worthy pursuits. The world, in its entirety, exists to be elevated, not run away from or destroyed.

Therein lies what escaped the terrorists. They attacked a group whose hallmark is an embrace of the world and its modernity. Around the world, Chabad Rabbis are leading Jewish centers with precisely the sort of lives that jihadi ideology insists is impossible. Culturally, they participate fully in pluralist democracies, while still professing a deep observance to tradition and spirituality. It is a defeat to the killers of Gavriel and Rivka that Judaism – in its orthodoxy of spirit, tradition, and faith – has endured in fidelity for more than 3,000 years, and will continue to thrive when, as an old Yiddish expression goes, the names and memories of the murderers have been erased.

Around the world, Chabad Rabbis are leading precisely the sort of lives that jihadi ideology insists is impossibleThat evening, I checked my mail and saw that my own Chabad Rabbi (Chezky Wolff, a friend and former classmate of Gavriel) had sent out a message via Facebook to members of the [email protected] club. His message was not a call for war, nor an expression of anger, but rather that we:

"Take all of the emotions we are feeling and channel them to positive action . . . [to] fill the world with the light of Torah and good deeds so that terror and darkness have nowhere to hide."

That is a priceless tradition, and that is what runs through my veins. My Jewish blood is not cheap!

This article is dedicated in loving memory to Gavriel Noach and Rivka, and the people of Mumbai. May the Almighty comfort their families among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem and comfort us all, with a world of peace and life, once and for always.