Joseph Volpe
Joseph Volpe
Five Canadian legislators invoked the memory of slain Chabad-Lubavitch emissaries Rabbi Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg during speeches Thursday on the floor of the House of Commons, coinciding with a conference of emissaries sponsored by the Canadian Federation of Chabad-Lubavitch taking place in Ottawa.

MP Joseph Volpe, a Liberal from Eglinton-Lawrence, Ontario, spoke about the Holtzbergs’ dedication to “doing G‑d’s work”:

“Madam Speaker, an act of brutal terrorism shocked the Chabad-Lubavitch Jewish Center in Mumbai last November.

“Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg, his wife, Rebbetzin Rivka Holtzberg, of blessed memory, and four others lost their lives in doing G‑d’s work at this Chabad House, a refuge of humanitarian service open to all.

“The Holtzbergs’ young lives were a living ethic of doing good in the face of evil with deeds of kindness and charity. They would have wanted others to carry on.

“Today, the Canadian Federation of Chabad-Lubavitch and over 100 Chabad rabbis are hosting a memorial service here on Parliament Hill to both commemorate the work of the Holtzbergs and to celebrate the Lubavitch ethic of kiruv and tikkun olam, repairing the world.

“I am honored to have been asked to co-chair this service and to work with Rabbi Chaim Mendelsohn to ensure that the lives of the Holtzbergs continue to serve as an inspiration for everyone.”

Scott Reid (Photo: House of Commons)
Scott Reid (Photo: House of Commons)

Canadian Ties

MP Scott Reid, a Conservative who represents Lanark-Frontenac-Lennox and Addington, Ontario, lauded Canada’s ties to Chabad-Lubavitch activities across the globe:

“Madam Speaker, today, more than 100 emissaries of the Canadian Federation of Chabad-Lubavitch have gathered for a national conference here in Ottawa.

“At the funeral for the slain emissaries in Mumbai, the movement pledged that Jews traveling to and living in the city would not be forgotten and that the Chabad center would flourish again. It was two rabbinical students from Canada who were sent to Mumbai to assist in these efforts.

“This action is typical of the Canadian involvement in Chabad-Lubavitch worldwide. Canadian alumni of Chabad-Lubavitch institutions play a vital role among the more than 5,500 Chabad-Lubavitch emissaries situated in 73 countries as far-flung as Thailand, Ukraine and Chile.

“Canada has been a catalyst for many Chabad-Lubavitch activities across the globe with its educational, humanitarian and youth centers. Our country boasts centers to assist those who are less fortunate, including children with special needs and drug and alcohol addicts.

“These are programs that are being emulated throughout North America and, indeed, throughout the entire world.”

James Lunney
James Lunney

Genuine Peace

MP James Lunney, a Conservative from Nanaimo-Alberni, British Columbia, quoted Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, who visited the targeted Chabad House in Mumbai earlier this year:

“Mr. Speaker, last November, a terrible slaughter occurred in Mumbai. Among the more than 170 people slain by religious fanatics were Rabbi Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg. The Holtzbergs were a devout couple, with a young son. They ran Nariman House, an outreach center devoted to the spirit of charity and the love of learning found at Judaism’s core.

“Our colleague, the Hon. Minister of Immigration, visited Nariman Chabad House after this infamous attack. In his words, ‘I marveled that of the 20 million in Mumbai, the killers meticulous and deliberately sought out this one man and his family.’

“Their murder was a senseless and brutal affront to the values of all civilized peoples.

“I am sure I speak for all members of the House in expressing condolences to the Chabad-Lubavitch family that is gathering in Ottawa this week, and to all who mourn the deaths of Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg. Together, we must work to protect freedom of religion in order to secure tolerance and genuine peace for all of the people of the world.”

Judy Wasylycia-Leis
Judy Wasylycia-Leis

Out of the Ashes

MP Judy Wasylycia-Leis, a New Democrat from Winnipeg North, Manitoba, spoke about the theological underpinnings of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement:

“Mr. Speaker, I join my colleagues in paying tribute to the Canadian Federation of Chabad-Lubavitch and its delegation of 100 representatives who are here with us today on Parliament Hill.

“The Chabad-Lubavitch movement provides the largest network of Jewish educational and social-service institutions across the globe.

“Founded by the late Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, out of the ashes of the Holocaust, the Chabad-Lubavitch movement has been a catalyst for Jewish revival around the world. Today, it is synonymous with wisdom and kindness, offering nourishment for the body, food for the mind and soul and non-judgmental advisers always willing to listen.

“In the tradition of classical Jewish scholarship, it teaches understanding of the Creator and the purpose of Creation and the unique mission of each one of us in caring for others.

“I conclude by expressing our deep sorrow at the recent tragedy in Mumbai, where a Chabad center was singled out in an act of terrorism, in which Rabbi Gavriel and his wife Rivka Holtzberg were brutally killed.”

Jean-Yves Laforest (Photo: House of Commons)
Jean-Yves Laforest (Photo: House of Commons)

Condemnation of Violence

Speaking in French, MP Jean-Yves Laforest, a Québécois legislator representing Saint-Maurice-Champlain, condemned the terror attacks:

Mr. Speaker, on November 26, 2008, a series of horrific attacks took place in Mumbai, India, leaving 172 people dead and more than 300 injured. We remember that the terrorists who attacked the Chabad center in Mumbai savagely assassinated Rabbi Gavriel Holzberg and his wife, Rivka Holzberg.

To commemorate this sad event, 100 rabbis representing the Canadian Federation of Chabad-Lubavitch are on Parliament Hill today. I commend this group’s values of peace, goodness and justice, and the work it does both internationally and in Quebec.

I condemn these unwarranted attacks against innocent people. No cause or claim can justify such attacks against civilians. I would like to remind this House that the Bloc Québécois has always condemned violence and that there are other ways to defend and realize political visions.