Six Holy Souls


mumbai-kedoshim-2Ever since its establishment by the Holtzbergs in 2003, the Chabad House in Mumbai served an eclectic variety of people; their home was always open for all Jews, no matter their nationality or affiliation. That fateful evening in November 2008 when terror struck found the Holtzbergs hosting several visitors:

Bentzion Kruman

Rabbi Benzion Kruman, a devoted husband and loving father of three young children, ranging in age (at the time) from two months to five years, was 28 years of age. Benzion grew up in Bat Yam, Israel, in the local Bobov community.

kromanA kashrus mashgiach, Benzion was in India to help his friend, R’ Aryeh Leibish Teitelbaum, inspect a mushroom packing plant. The two stopped in the Chabad House for Minchah. Unfortunately, this short stop ended in their tragic murder.

Benzion is survived by his wife Emunah; three children, Mordechai, Serrie, and Rivkah; his parents; and nine siblings.

Yocheved Orpaz

A resident of Givatayim, Israel, Yocheved Orpaz had traveled to India to visit her daughter and two grandchildren in Mumbai. orpazSince Yocheved ate only kosher, the Holtzbergs provided her with food and showed her what to buy in the market. At the end of the trip, Yocheved went back to the Chabad House to thank Gabi and Rivky. A short time later, the gunmen attacked the Chabad House.

The 62-year-old grandmother and mother of four, described by her friends as a noble woman and a kindhearted soul, was among those mercilessly killed.

Norma Shvarzblat-Rabinovich

Norma Shvarzblat-Rabinovich, a 50-year-old mother of three from Mexico, was in the process of moving from Mexico to Israel to shvartzblatjoin two of her children living there. She had been staying as a guest at the Chabad House in Mumbai in the days leading up to the fateful attacks, while she sorted out her immigration paperwork.

Norma¬† had planned to take a December 1st flight to Tel Aviv in order to arrive for her son’s eighteenth birthday. In the end, an Israel Air Force jet transported her body on the same date.

She will be remembered by her son, two daughters, and many friends as a loving and hospitable woman who protested injustice and loved nature, a naturally friendly person who liked to laugh, talk, and meet new people.

aryeh-leibish-teitelbaumRabbi Aryeh Leibish Teitelbaum

Rabbi Aryeh Leibish Teitelbaum, the 37-year-old son of Rav Nachum Ephraim Teitelbaum, the Volover Rov, was a dominant figure in his father’s kosher certification organization, known for its impeccable standards. He was in India at the time as a mashgiach. A resident of Yerushalayim, he was a son-in-law of the Rebbe of the Toldos Avraham Yitzchok community.

R’ Aryeh Leibish left behind a widow and eight orphans, the oldest at the time having just reached the age of bar mitzvah, and the youngest a few months old.

In addition to being known as an extremely learned individual, R’ Aryeh Leibish was a gentle soul and a pious man, with a cheerful and sunny personality, beloved by all who met him.

gavriel-holtzbergThe Hosts: Rabbi Gavriel and Rivkah Holtzberg

Rabbi Gavriel (Gabi) Holtzberg was born in Israel and moved with his family to the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn, N.Y., when he was nine. He studied at yeshivos in New York and Argentina, and served Jewish communities in Thailand and China. He was 29 at the time of the attacks.

Rivky, Gavriel’s 28-year old wife, was born Rivkah Rosenberg in Afula, Israel.

The Holtzbergs married in 2002, and abandoning the comfortable life they could have had in Israel or the U.S., the two moved to Mumbai a year after their marriage to serve as Chabad emissaries and open the first Chabad House in Mumbai. They served the small local Jewish community, visiting businesspeople, and the numerous tourists, many of them Israeli, who annually travel to the seaside city.

Gabi and Rivky were no strangers to hardship. Their first child, Menachem Mendel, died from a congenital disease, and another son, Dovber, also suffered from the same disorder, and passed away a few weeks after his parents were killed.

Besides being a trained mohel and shochet, Gabi also conducted weddings for local Jewish couples and taught numerous Torah classes at the Chabad House and other locations across the city.

Despite his young years, he left a legacy of selflessness, dedication, and kindness that will be widely admired for many years to come.

rivky-holtzbergRivky forged close friendships with many members of the community in India and was always available for a heart-to-heart conversation with a traveler passing through. She was passionate about the classes she taught, and especially enjoyed explaining the beauty of the Jewish view of marriage and intimacy. A great source of pride for Rivky was the mikvah that the Holtzbergs had built in Mumbai.

Those who visited the Chabad house would speak of her endless hospitality and the warmth and comfort she emanated.

The Holzbergs are survived by their son Moshe, two at the time, who was miraculously saved, carried out of the beleaguered Chabad House in the arms of his courageous nanny.

{, Dovid Newscenter}


  1. A gentle reminder:

    Matzav is where Bnai Torah look to see what is happening in the world. In light of this, the site has always maintained a commendable policy of not publishing pictures of women.

    It is less than fitting to compromise the memory of the holy kedoshim of Mumbai by publishing the pictures of the women who were killed.

    I also find it offensive to find an audio of Sarah Palin posted today. The excerpted comments told us all we needed to know.

    Thanks for accepting a bit of mussar. Matzav is too good to be allowed to stray from the proper path.

  2. if those thumbnail prints of women bother you why in the world are you on the Internet? if Palin’s voice bothers you, don’t ever listen to the radio!

  3. downtoearth

    Welcome to the real world where it is impossible to run a business without the internet.

    Those of us who wish to maintain our kedusha and status as Bnai Torah subscribe to a filtering service such as Yeshivanet which censors or blocks sites not deemed acceptable. I thus do not see any pictures of women when entering a website. And I don’t listen to radio.

    Of course, the Soton fills our mailboxes with advertising circulars (we throw them away before they come in to the house) and the streets are full of offensive billboards, but we try………