Father of R’ Gavriel Holtzberg Opens Heart On London Visit


holtzbergIt was with a message of hope and rebuilding that the father of Mumbai terror victim Rav Gavriel Holtzberg embarked upon a four-day speaking tour in London this week. Travelling from Israel with his wife Freida to raise support for the construction of a new Chabad house in Mumbai, Rabbi Nachman Holtzberg chose not to focus on the cynicism of those dark days which took his son last November – when three attackers terrorized the Indian city claiming 170 innocent lives – instead speaking about the coming together of a worldwide Jewish community and the healing process that has allowed his family to remain strong.”We are doing well,” Rabbi Holtzberg told the Jewish News during his stay with a family in Stamford Hill. “There is a part of our family that will never be complete, but we are healing. It was certainly very difficult in the beginning to accept that he was gone, but it is getting better now. We are doing better because we have work to do to honour our son and his family.”

Gavriel Holtzberg, 29, and his wife Rivkah, 28, were both killed in the Mumbai attacks when terrorists laid siege to the Nariman House, which acted as both local shul and home for the young family. For three days, the world watched as the Holtzbergs were held hostage with their two-year-old son Moshe and a number of travellers, some Israeli, who had come to the Chabad center looking for a welcoming place to stay while so far away from home.

When Gavriel and his wife were confirmed dead, Jews around the world responded with tributes and prayers, with much attention paid to the seemingly miraculous survival of little Moshe, who was saved by the heroic efforts of his nanny Sandra as she sheltered the boy and ran with him to safety at the first opportunity.

Granted a special visa by the Israeli government, which allowed the Indian native to travel to Israel to continue looking after Moshe, she has been with the child ever since.

“Sandra has taken wonderful care of Moshe, and we are so thankful that she has been allowed to stay with us,” Rabbi Holtzberg commented. “She will be returning to India in a few months and then our family will be looking after him, but we will always be grateful for the care she has given him. She was sent by God.”

Now, Rabbi Holtzberg and his wife are spreading the word about efforts currently taking place to rebuild the Mumbai Jewish community. Rabbi Holtzberg revealed that a new rabbi and rebbetzin from Israel have already been chosen to head a temporary centre in Mumbai, and will be heading there in a few weeks’ time, with hope that the restored center will be completed by the end of the year.

Speaking at local London schools and centers, including Hasmonean Boys’ School and Beis Yaakov Primary School in Barnet, Rabbi Holtzberg also spoke to pupils and families about the importance of perseverance and faith.

“They [the terrorists] tried to take something away from us, and though it was an unspeakable tragedy, they did not succeed,” he said. “Our faith and our spirit can not be destroyed. That is our message.”

{TotallyJewish/Noam Amdurski-Matzav.com Newscenter}