In Mumbai, A Ray of Light Punctuates Great Sadness


In Mumbai, A Ray of Light Punctuates Great Sadness

by R.C. Berman - LUBAVITCH HEADQUARTERS

December 16, 2008

(lubavitch.com) Tears, songs and resolve permeated Shabbat meals hosted by Chabad of Mumbai in undisclosed locations this past weekend.  

Rabbi Dov Ber Goldberg and his wife Charna, Chabad’s interim representatives in Mumbai, welcomed an international group of fifteen visitors and locals for both the Friday night and Saturday afternoon Sabbath meals. Two guests had never experienced Shabbat with Chabad, but were moved to do so in memory of Rabbi Gabi and Rivkah Holzberg and the hundreds who lost their lives in the massacre.

Rabbi Goldberg said the feeling of unity and purpose palpable throughout the Shabbat gatherings “was a much needed light amid great darkness.”   

Twenty people joined Chabad on Sunday morning for Torah study session, a kollel, held in the Tiferet Israel synagogue. Plans are in place for the kollel to continue meeting each week as a memorial to the Holzbergs.

Rabbi and Mrs. Goldberg, natives of France and Israel respectively, were in Goa when the hostage crisis erupted and arrived in Mumbai before the fate of the Holzbergs and the four others in the Chabad House was known. The Goldbergs are planning on continuing to host weekly Shabbat services and meals each week until other shluchim are appointed to a permanent position in Mumbai. 

Their mission, to bring Jewish warmth and meaning to Jewish people wherever they are, remains the same, but at present the openness of the Chabad center has been restricted. Prior to the attacks, the center’s location was Google-able and searchable on the web. Currently, invitations to Chabad Shabbat dinners are by word of mouth, with background checks, and the location is given on a need to know basis only. 

Tightened security measures are a necessity, said the region’s senior Chabad representative Rabbi Yosef C. Kantor of Chabad Thailand. Last week, Rabbi Kantor went on a fact-finding mission in Mumbai. He found the Chabad center in shambles, and a city still shell-shocked, it streets desert. A commute that once took an hour through snarled traffic now takes fifteen minutes. Rebuilding Chabad’s presence in Mumbai will take time, according to Rabbi Kantor.

As normalcy slowly returns to the Gateway of India’s home city, the Goldbergs’ willingness to welcome guests for Shabbat here is not only a tribute to the lives lost, but also to Chabad and its principles – countering negative with positive action.    

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