By Morgan Zalot, Philadelphia Daily News and COLlive
Rabbi Avraham Shemtov was preparing for a trip he wished he didn’t have to take.
“Everybody expresses the shock,” he said by phone yesterday. “The reaction has been one of dismay and horrific pain at what happened, but a strong result [has been] not only to continue but to go even further.”
Shemtov, chairman of the executive committee of the worldwide Chabad-Lubavitch movement – Agudas Chassidei Chabad, was en route from his Philadelphia home to the group’s headquarters in Brooklyn, where he expected to make plans to depart today for Israel.
He and others in their large Hasidic Jewish sect expressed shock that they now must bury two of their own, reportedly killed by terrorists during a three-day siege in Mumbai, India: Rabbi Gavriel Noach Holtzberg, 29, director of the Chabad House in Mumbai, and his wife, Rivkah, 28.
Shemtov said he planned to leave for Israel by noon today to attend the Holtzbergs’ funerals, tentatively scheduled for tomorrow morning.
Other Lubavitch officials heading to Israel are Rabbi Yehuda Krinsky and Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky, Chairman and Vice Chairman of Merkos L’Inyonei Chinuch, respectively.
Of the Rebbe’s secretariat Rabbi Leibel Groner will be traveling.
From the Crown Heights Jewish Community, activist Eli Slavin and philanthropist Yingy Bistritzky are already in Israel.
A delegation from Crown Heights’ Beis Shmuel shul will travel as well. One of the representatives, Duddy Farkash, says, “It is important that someone from our shul attend, because Beis Shmuel has always been great supporters of Chabad Shluchim.”
Many Shluchim from the U.S. wanted to travel as well to pay their respects, but the trip is not practical for most. One shliach devised a solution: each Shliach chipped in for flight tickets to be raffled off for Shluchim.