By Dovid Margolin
When the Chabad House in Mumbai, India, reopened in the summer of 2014, it was making a clear statement: A site that had once been bursting with life until it was brutally cut down by forces of evil would once again serve as a source of love, strength and direction for Jews from all walks of life. The mission of Rabbi Gavriel and Rivky Holtzberg, who were murdered together with four guests by terrorists in November 2008, would continue despite the deep loss.
“We remember what happened, but we are working for the future,” said Rabbi Yisroel Kozlovsky at the time. Kozlovsky and his wife, Chaya, arrived in India in 2012 to direct Chabad-Lubavitch of Mumbai, and oversee the rehabilitation and rededication of the center. They have run all of the city’s Chabad activities ever since.
On Feb. 21, Chaya Kozlovsky gave birth to a baby boy, the couple’s third child and their second born in India. At an emotional bris milah held this past Sunday in the shul at the Chabad House (also known as Nariman House), the Kozlovskys named their newborn son Gavriel Noach, in honor and memory of the Chabad House founder who died sanctifying G‑d’s name mere steps away from where his namesake’s bris was taking place.
“We name our children after people we want them to be like,” says Rabbi Kozlovsky. “Every Chossid would like their son to grow up with the same dedication and positive traits Gabi had.”
In the immediate aftermath of the shocking terror attack on the Mumbai Chabad Center, dozens of children were named Gavriel Noach and Rivkah. In fact, hundreds of children have since been named after them.
“Time has passed, and most people don’t feel the tragedy like they did,” adds the rabbi. “But here we live with the memory of Gabi and Rivky every single day, with every Modeh Ani morning prayer. We see their faces on the wall and the bullet holes. A memorial candle is always lit. But even more than that, we’re trying to carry on the work they started.
“I never knew Gabi, but I’ve seen his influence in this city every day, either through people who knew him or through his work. Naming our son after him was something we felt was important for us to do.”
Mumbai doesn’t have a bris milah every day, and so emotions were running high even before the baby’s name was announced as guests and locals took in the joyous occasion. Kozlovsky notes that people had tears in their eyes—that it was hard not to get emotional.
After all, he says: “A Gabi is walking again in Nariman House.”