I traveled to Mumbai in April of 2007 as I had always been fascinated by India since I was young. I wanted to learn the language, experience the rich culture and just live daily life there. I was able to accomplish this in the six months I lived there.

When I went there, however, I also wanted to continue to learn about Judaism, an interest I've had for a few years now due to my Jewish background.

As it had been inconvenient to light the Shabbat candles where I was living, I went to the Chabad House to see if I would be able to celebrate Shabbat with others. I must say, for someone who had not been raised Jewish, the Orthodox home of the Holtzbergs seemed a bit overwhelming.

This uncomfortable feeling was completely gone as soon as I spoke to Rivka. She was genuinely interested in my family background and listened carefully to my reasons for wanting to learn more about Judaism. She said I would be more than welcome at her home for Shabbat and that I could eat and stay at their place whenever I wanted. These were not only words, but true mitzvot (I think that's the right word, isn't it?).

Shabbat at the Chabad House was a very lively event as many Israeli tourists, the Bene Israeli (the Indian Jewish community) and many other people were there. It was great and I had never experienced Shabbat in this way. Rabbi Gabi always went around to everyone and made sure that everyone was well. Songs were sung, prayers were said and there was plenty to feast on. I felt truly blessed.

My first meeting with the Rabbi was unforgettable. He asked whether my mother and my mother's mother were Jewish and I said yes, of course. Then he asked if I had had my Bar Mitzvah and I said no. Well, before I could even explain why I hadn't, he had already been applying the tefillin (Are those the straps that go around one's arm, etc.?) and making me say prayers in Hebrew. I felt so welcomed and accepted that I do not have the words to express this experience. It was just beautiful.

Rabbi Gabi himself seemed so happy at what he was doing. I could feel all this positive energy from him. He performed the entire ceremony in front of only one person, a friend of his. The way in which everything was done gave me the feeling that we were being filmed or something because he was just so enthusiastic. We celebrated afterwards with grape juice as the Rabbi had respected my wish not to drink any alcohol. I could not believe in that moment how beautiful it all was; and just for me. I was so grateful.

For me, Rabbi Gabi and Rivka Holtzberg were two beautiful, selfless people who did everything for their community with much enthusiasm and love. I always felt welcomed there and felt their hospitality was completely genuine.

Nathan Azize, Munich, Germany