Shortly after Reuben Posner and Leila Bilick's wedding last year they traveled to Mumbai, India, to spend a year working for the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, a worldwide Jewish relief organization. During their stay, they got to know the Holtzbergs quite well.

Dear Family and Friends,

The past few days have been exceedingly trying for us. Leila expressed it best in an email she sent to our former country director at the Joint when she said quite simply, "there really are no words."

And there aren't. And yet we feel filled with words that want to pour out.

While there is no adequate way to describe the loss we feel, the destruction that occurred, and the terror we know many of our friends and colleagues in Bombay feel, we did want to share a few words about Rabbi Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg of blessed memory.

Since the news became official and it was confirmed that Gabi and Rivki had been killed in the terrorist attacks at the Chabad House in Bombay, we have been overwhelmed by grief and by questions. What went through their minds in their last moments? How great was the terror they faced? Did they take comfort in G‑d, as they did all their lives, or did their faith waver in those moments of fear and violence? Did they know, on some level, that their son was saved? Did they say the Shema, the recitation that every Jew fears, the one you say when you think you are going to die? Did the experience seem interminable or did it pale in comparison to the joyous times of their lives?

Their home was a space of true comfort and predictability for us and so many others. It was a haven—for them and so many. And that was all turned around in seconds—a home became a hell for them and four others, and millions of others indirectly. We keep trying to remind ourselves that it's over, that they're no longer going through it and have been laid to rest in Israel. We keep returning to the anger and the terror. But we both hope that, over time, these questions will diminish, becoming less and less important, as the impact they had on others becomes more and more apparent, as the light from their lives outlasts the darkness that enveloped them at the end.

In a way, Gabi and Rivki knew us in ways few others could; there just are not very many young newly married Jewish couples in their mid twenties who make a decision to move from New York to Bombay for an extended period of time to work for the Jewish community. It felt like we shared something with Gabi and Rivki, sort of an inside joke that you just wouldn't understand unless you were us. We had made different choices (we often marveled at how Gabi and Rivki were truly prepared to spend the rest of their life in Bombay knowing it was hard enough to be there for a year) based on different world views, but the support they offered us (and we want to hope on some level the support we offered them) was invaluable and came from a place of knowledge that no one else could truly understand.

As more and more emails from people who had met Gabi and Rivki briefly – some from people who knew them a little bit better, some from people who didn't know them at all but knew that we knew them – began to fill our inboxes, we began to notice that many articulated a feeling of acute loss. A feeling of loss that is born from losing someone that you felt like you really knew and who really knew you.

Gabi and Rivki understood how to make people feel known. It is simply not enough to say that they lived the Jewish value of hospitality, of welcoming guests into their home. They did more than offer a place to stay and a meal to eat. What Gabi and Rivki did was they gave people the gift of feeling understood, of feeling connected to something beyond themselves, of feeling meaningful. Gabi and Rivki understood inherently the value of feeling valued and they were able to accomplish simply by taking the time to ask people how they were doing when they walked through their door. They not only saw the G‑dliness in others, they embodied the idea that everyone was created in the image of G‑d.

What makes Gabi and Rivki all the more inspiring is that they were able to do this within the context of one of the most chaotic and inefficient cities in the world. Bombay is the polar opposite of many places that are familiar to all of us, and no matter what they had been told before they left, nothing could have truly prepared them for what awaited them the first time they touched down in Bombay. It has been written that Gabi and Rivki made sacrifices. That they left the comforts of home in order to help other Jews continue on a Jewish journey of their own. They did this by creating, from nothing and in the epicenter of the craziness of Bombay, a space that was safe and comfortable for everyone who walked through the doors.

We also keep going back to the small things. So many people have written about the big things—how they dedicated their lives to serving Jews, how they relocated indefinitely to a place that was far from and nothing like home, how they were righteous people working for Jewish continuity and unity. But Gabi and Rivki, as we knew them, were also people with unique thoughts, habits, idiosyncrasies, stories, personalities. We only knew them for a year, seeing them only about once or twice a month, but we grew to know them and appreciate them and see them for more than just another Chabad couple. Some of the small things we remember:

Rivki was teaching herself how to make soymilk from scratch. She was always going online, looking for recipes, and teaching herself how to make what she could not readily access in Mumbai. While the food at their house was always similar, there was always something new, some small experiment by Rivki.

Gabi was a little tone deaf. But he loved to sing and he sang very loudly. Each Friday night, he went through the first ten songs in the Chabad songbook. We used to roll our eyes. Really, Adon Olam again? But he loved those songs. Maybe he also loved the repetition, the predictability of his Friday nights in such an unpredictable, messy and often inhospitable city.

Rivki wasn't afraid to express strong opinions. She never just sat back and watched.

Gabi was a shochet (ritual slaughterer). He slaughtered and koshered a turkey for us last Thanksgiving.

Rivki was helping a woman from the local Jewish community to run a support group for women who are victims of domestic violence. She also ran the local mikvah.

Gabi had a small perpetual smile playing on his face, as if he were always slightly amused by the world around him. Sometimes, if a visitor said something embarrassing or inappropriate, we would catch his eye and we would share a knowing smile.

Rivki was so sweet and warm. She began hugging Leila each time she saw her and the hugs were genuine and comforting. She loved having us and other guests in her home.

On Friday nights, Gabi gave a very long Torah talk. We don't think he ever intended to go on as long as he did; he just couldn't stop thinking of stories to add and sources to reference. He sometimes started in English if there were many people who couldn't understand Hebrew. He tried in earnest, but inevitably, after a few minutes, he lapsed into Hebrew, unaware. He might remember later and change back but could only sustain it for a minute.

In the rooms they had for paying guests (and sometimes un-paying ones like us and many of our friends and family who visited us), small details reflected the thought they put in to decorating and providing a place of comfort for those far from home. There were new toothbrushes, small bottles of shampoo, Israeli hand soap, water bottles in the fridge.

The physical space they built with love of Judaism and a passion for the Jewish people has been destroyed, and Gabi and Rivki Holtzberg have been forever taken away from their family and friends. But Gabi and Rivki created a home built on things much stronger and more permanent than metal or concrete. They built their home on the values of love and respect for others that comes from the knowledge one gains when they see people as being made in the image of G‑d and on the strength and shoulders of a faith in the Jewish people, the community of Israel, that they were instrumental in fortifying.

Many newly married Jewish couples are given the blessing that they should merit the ability to create a bayit ne'eman b'Yisrael, an everlasting home in Israel. Gabi and Rivki built that everlasting home in a place very far from their own, so that others could have a piece of home when they were far from theirs. The building they built may have been destroyed, but the home they built will live on in the hearts and souls of so many of the people who had the privilege of being welcomed into their home.

In their honor and in their memory, it is our that hope we can all merit to take a bit of what made their home so special and build it into the fabric of our own homes wherever they may be.

May the memories of Rabbi Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg be for a blessing.

Much love,

Leila and Reuben