Jewish Journal

Remembering Mumbai and giving thanks

by Brad A. Greenberg

November 26, 2009 | 11:14 pm

I’m thankful for a lot of things. A lot of things. But this year I’m exceptionally thankful that I didn’t need to spend much of turkey day updating a story like the Mumbai terror attacks.

A year ago today, terrorists launched a three-day siege of the historic Indian city that left 173 dead. Among the terrorists’ targets was the Mumbai Chabad house.

That weekend, I attended a memorial service for the Chabad rabbi and rebbetzin who were murdered in the attack. Here’s a reflection:

I spoke with a Chabad rabbi who went to school with Gavriel back in New York and with a scholar who had celebrated Shabbat at the Mumbai Chabad house the Friday before the attacks, but most the people there were simply grabbed by the power of the Holtzbergs’ story, by the personal mission that caused the young couple to relocate after marrying in 2003 to a foreign land—to, as one speaker said, “the spread of good and the destruction of evil.”

Despite the circumstances, the mood at the memorial was upbeat. And I was surprised to hear so many times the exhortation that Jewish men put on tefillin to honor Gavriel’s legacy and that they create a kosher house for Rivkah. I’m still amazed with how Rabbi Holtzberg and his rebbetzin have come to serve as the public faces of this tragedy. From everything I’ve heard about the couple, I think they’d be a bit embarrassed by all the attention. But so many Jews, and non-Jews too, felt like the attacks were an attack on them personally; when one suffers, we all suffer.

“All of the Jewish people are connected. They are part of us,” Marilyn Greenberg, 71 and of no relation, told me at the service. “A young family, doing work for Klal Yisroel—and they were killed because they were Jewish. There wasn’t any other reason.”

With that in mind, it’s been nice to have a quite Thanksgiving—and to just be able to give thanks.

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