Perusing the more than 600 reflections submitted by readers to in the days after India’s worst terrorist attack, one thing becomes clear: In the course of their short lives, Rabbi Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg – the directors of the Chabad-Lubavitch center in Mumbai whose bodies and those of four other victims were recovered the night of Nov. 28 – managed to touch many lives.

Collected among the dozens of submissions in the “Sharing Memories” portion of the Web site’s hastily-assembled section on the Mumbai terror attacks is a piece penned by Batya Rotter, who remembers her surprise upon first learning that Rivka Holtzberg was only three years older than herself.

Rivky “had a clarity of purpose and a purity of faith that you do not find often,” writes Rotter. “While there are times when I think of her as a friend, she is more than a friend. She is a role model, a vision of fortitude and courage, and a soul too precious for this world.”

Rotter was in Jerusalem the morning of Nov. 27 when she found out that the home in Mumbai where she had been a frequent visitor was under attack by terrorists. It was the same day as her sister’s wedding.

“While my sister and her husband began a journey of love and commitment,” says Rotter, “the couple who knew a love and a commitment to a calling beyond themselves were under attack. I thought about Gabi, and I thought about Rivky, and that is when I lost it.”

Rotter concludes with a heartfelt request of readers in remembering the Holtzbergs and the two-year-old son Moshe that they left behind: “I ask that you do something good, something so kind, so good, and so loving, that it can in some way make the world hurt less. Because little Moshe should not know the hate-filled world that his parents were murdered in. And because our broken hearts and the courtyards of Jerusalem should only be filled with voices of joy and happiness, voices of brides and grooms.” (For her full submission, see “My Sister’s Wedding.”)

Warm Memories

Among the collection of reflections posted to the site, you find warm memories penned by Mumbai locals and others written by visitors to the Chabad House. Some had been there for just one Shabbat, but by all accounts, even a single Shabbat with the Holtzbergs was enough to make an indelible impression.

Jerusalemite Ahuva Goldshmidt, for instance, wasn’t even planning to spend time in Mumbai, but got delayed in her journey from Goa to Pushkar when Shabbat approached. She stayed at the Chabad House, and on a Saturday night, concluded her journey.

“On my way to Pushkar,” Goldschmidt writes, “I was filled with the most elevated, peaceful feeling, which left me wondering: Where did that come from? I was amazed by the feeling of inner peace and joy I was feeling. I realized, and now I know, that it was the holiness that I picked up at the Chabad House in Mumbai. I know I will never forget my experience with Gabi and Rivky.”

The living conditions in the Chabad House had a profound impact on Hillary Lewin, who got to know the Holtzbergs over the course of this past summer.

“On my last Shabbat in India,” Lewin reminisces, “I slept in Rivky and Gabi’s home, the fifth floor of the Chabad House. I noticed that their apartment was dilapidated and bare. They had only a sofa, a bookshelf, a bedroom for Moshe, and a bedroom to sleep in. The paint peeled from the walls, and there were hardly any decorations. Yet, the guest quarters on the two floors below were decorated exquisitely, with American-style beds, expansive bathrooms, air conditioning (a luxury in India) and marble floors. The juxtaposition of their home to the guest rooms was just another example of what selfless, humble people Rivky and Gabi were. They were more concerned about the comfort of their guests than their own.”

Shorter postings by readers offer quick, vignette-style memories.

“Linda and I are deeply saddened by this tragedy,” writes Steve Hertzman from Richmond, British Columbia. “We will never forget the kindness shown to my in-laws in Cochin by the Holtzbergs. For some time, upon learning that chicken was no longer being ritually slaughtered in Jewtown, Rabbi Gabi selflessly took it upon himself to pack – and dispatch by air – chickens each month to my father in law. Words cannot convey our sorrow.”

Yakova from Miami points out that the Holtzbergs’ concern for their fellows extended beyond providing religious services: “I remember Gabi Holtzberg taking me around to different guest houses in Mumbai and bargaining with the managers till we found one suitable enough for me. I remember him taking in a young Israeli man who was so sick from food poisoning. He spent hours holding his head as he vomited, and rubbing his back.”

The Holtzbergs’ kindness extended to non-Jews, as well. Brian Kong shares an experience from September 2007, when he needed some Hebrew translated.

“I went to the synagogue in Kala Ghoda where the ‘rector’ directed me to Rabbi Holtzberg and Chabad,” writes Kong. “Rabbi Holtzberg spared me an hour from his busy schedule to translate and chat.”

A Mumbai local, Chintan Singhvi, writes that he met Gabi sometime in January 2007, when he was working with a company that made plastic plates. One of their Israeli clients wanted to place an order for the plates but only if our plates was certified kosher.

“I found about Rabbi Gavriel, and we traveled together four hours to our factory,” relates Singhvi. “He came across to me as someone who is so warm, practical, intellectual and so very sincere in his beliefs. He explained all that they did at the Chabad Mumbai, it was unbelievable and so selfless. That one full day spent with him was an eye opener on the Jewish religion [and] way of life.”

A Universal Outpouring of Grief and Solidarity

People from all over the world are still using the “Readers React” soundboard to express their feelings about the senseless taking of so many innocent lives. Hundreds of people have made their feelings heard in this community forum, with the numbers growing day by day.

The raw emotions expressed cover the full gamut of the human psyche.

“I grieve for your loss and I pray that little Moshe will find happiness with his grandparents,” posts LLevine from Carmel, Ind. “Please know that every decent person mourns your loss.”

Anonymous from London writes: “My heart is filled with sadness at the senseless loss of this dear couple. I cannot stop crying.”

Others, like Hector C. of McAllen, Texas, offer condolences to the Holtzbergs’ families “and the families of all who were victims of these execrable crimes. May all rest in peace and consolation soon come.

Writes Serafim Evgenievich Yusupov from Taipei, Taiwan: “My profound condolences to all of the Chabad-Lubavitch community, and to the family and loves ones of the Holtzbergs. My special thoughts and prayers go to their precious little boy.”

The comments came from people all over the world, representing an assortment of religions. Many came from India, a number of them expressing regret for the tragedy occurring on their soil.

“As an Indian,” Shenoy from Mumbai writes, “I wish to express my condolence to the Jewish community. I wish to express my solidarity with the Jewish community of India and beyond. The Jewish community has been part of the mosaic of my country India and their contribution to my city of Mumbai has been immense. I hope that the Jewish community always feels welcome.”

“I am an American-Muslim from Washington, D.C.,” offers one anonymous reader, “and I wanted to express my deepest condolences to the Chabad and Jewish communities. This was an act of cowardly proportions.”

“I’m neither Indian nor Jew,” writes Ana Curado from Brazil, “but my heart is filled with sadness and sorrow.”

Rev. Robert Morwell from Quincy, Ill., writes: “As a Christian, I wish to extend my deepest sympathies and prayers for the Holtzberg family and all who loved them. May G‑d grant them eternal peace and provide their child with the grace and love to know happiness despite this dreadful atrocity.”

Many pledged to continue the Holtzbergs’ legacy by doing good deeds in their memory and encouraging others to do the same.

“May this tragic event remind us once more,” writes Brigitte from Wayne, N.J., “to unite as fellow Jews and continue to study Torah and do mitzvahs.”

A woman from Long Beach, Calif., writes: “I never light Shabbat candles, but I will light them tonight.”