A personal favor brought Rabbi Bentzion Kruman, who always found it in his heart to assist another in need, to Mumbai, India’s Chabad-Lubavitch center for afternoon services and a kosher meal. He was still there when suspected Islamist terrorists entered the building.

It was the first time he was in the right place at the wrong time.

“He was always there in the right time and place to help others,” says his brother, Usher Zelig Kruman. “He was there to help, [almost] as if he was a part of the scene. [He] never considered the assistance he was giving to be a big deal.”

Kruman, a kosher supervisor, was in India to help one of his colleagues, Rabbi Leibish Teitelbaum, a scion of the Volover Chasidic dynasty, supervise a mushroom packing plant under Volover kosher certification.

“They were supposed to go two weeks earlier,” says the brother. “But they had issues with their visas.”

Kruman, 28, grew up in Bat Yam, Israel, with his nine siblings in the local Bobov Chasidic community. His parents, Rabbi Chaim Dov and Elka Kruman, are well-respected members of the community, where the father is a leading rabbi in the Talmudic college.

Before taking on kosher supervision duties, Kruman served as the administrator in the Sadigurah School in Bnei Brak, a position he continued to fill up until his passing.

“Whenever he had a chance, he would open a book of Torah studies,” says Kruman’s uncle, Akiva Klein from Tosh, Canada, before flying to Israel to be at the funeral.

“After a long day of work, he would come home to be with his wife and kids,” adds Klein, “and then go to evening prayer services. Afterwards, he would learn into the night.”

One year ago, a friend from Jerusalem asked Kruman if he could serve as a kosher supervisor and fly to China once a month to supervise food packaging plants. He took the position, seeing it as a way to help him realize his life’s dream of purchasing a home. The travel, however, was taxing.

“It was very difficult for him to leave his home,” says Kruman’s brother. “The family was very close, and he had a special bond with his three children. He would call his wife all the time on the trips. He treasured the time that he was at home, taking in every moment, and loving every bit of it.

“There was a very special bond” between Kruman and his wife, continues Klein. “I cannot describe the touching scene that I saw on one of my visits to Israel: His wife came downstairs to escort him to the car that would take him to the airport.”

When he was in China, Kruman would frequent the Chabad House in Beijing, not only for its kosher food and readily available prayer services, but for its fellowship in a foreign land.

“He told me he felt at home there,” says Kruman.

Klein echoes that point. When he last visited the Krumans in Israel, the nephew told of how kind the Chabad-Lubavitch emissaries in Beijing were to him.

“He had words of praise for what they did,” says Klein. Sometimes, it was just to provide a space for him to learn.

“He would always be learning Torah between his supervision jobs,” adds Klein. “He was very intelligent and learned.”

Losing the Connection

The last time Kruman spoke to his brother was Saturday night.

“He had finally received his [visas] and was leaving early Sunday morning,” says Kruman. “He told me had to go to sleep early, because he had an early flight.”

Throughout the India trip, Kruman’s wife Emunah spoke to him a few times, but the calls were cut short.

“There was a bad phone connection,” says the brother. “He told her he would be back [home] shortly, and that they would speak then.”

Initially, the family wasn’t too concerned when word came in of terrorists seizing the Chabad House and taking its directors, Rabbi Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg, hostage. They immediately called the hotel where he was staying and had a staff member open the door to his room.

“They said that all of this belongings were there, and that he was most probably fine,” says Kruman.

The family had visions of one of Kruman’s recent visits to China, when the May 12 earthquake in Sichuan Province claimed more than 69,000 lives.

“We couldn’t reach him,” says his brother. “When we finally did, he said, 'You guys finally found a reason to give me a call?'”

The family’s initial confidence that Kruman had been okay, just as in China, eroded 15 hours after they called the hotel. They found out that he and Teitelbaum went to the Chabad House for afternoon services and supper by taxi. When the taxi driver, who was waiting on the street to take them back to their hotel, heard the shooting, he sped off.

“He was very strong and determined,” says Rabbi Sender Dasklovitch, a friend of Kruman’s. “I see him standing up to the terrorists and risking his life to save the others.”

Official confirmation of the worst came when his body was retrieved by forensic crews following a Friday raid of the building by Indian commandos.

Kruman looks at the last week of events as clear evidence that there was some purpose served in his brother being at the Chabad House at that fateful moment.

“The entire sequence of events was like a scripted movie,” he says. “G‑d brought him there at the exact time and place.”

Rabbi Bentzion Kruman is survived by his wife Emunah and three children, Mordechai, Serrie and Rivkah; his parents and nine siblings. After being transported back to Israel Monday night, a Tuesday burial is expected. Information about the funeral was not immediately available.

A group of Rabbi Bentzion Kruman's friends have started a fund, supervised by respected rabbis, to benefit his widow and three orphans.

To contribute to this most worthy cause, please visit www.krumanfoundation.org.