It is human nature to seek the good in even the blackest of tragedies. One would be hard pressed to find the light in the four-day terrorist attack on the Indian city of Mumbai, which killed 164 civilians and security personnel last November, including Rabbi Gabriel Holtzberg and his wife, Rivka, a young couple running the Chabad Nariman House that is now thought to have been the target of the city-wide attack.
On Nov. 1 the Chabad Lubavitch of Northwest Connecticut transformed the one-year anniversary of the Mumbai tragedy into a celebration of the couple’s legacy and life’s work with the dedication of a Torah and a gala dinner honoring Rabbi Holtzberg’s parents, who joined the celebration, as well three local community service veterans. The event was held at the Waterbury Holiday Inn.
“It’s a blessing for the community,” said Rabbi Joseph Eisenbach, who with his wife, Mina, directs the Chabad Lubavitch of Northwest Connecticut.
Immediately following the attacks, the local Chabad commissioned the creation of a Torah in the Holtzbergs’ memory. A sofer, or scribe, in Israel took a full year to meticulously handwrite each of the 304,000 letters with care not to make one mistake as it renders the scroll unfit for ritual use.
The Torah will become part of the Litchfield Chabad’s practice as a text used in weekly prayer.
The process of completing the Torah, with the five books donated in an overwhelming amount of support from community members, further underlines the Holtzbergs’ vocation and the love and respect inherent to their faith. The young couple served as emissaries of the Lubavitch movement who chose to leave their familiar world in America to hold High Holy services, provide meals, and offer workshops and educational programs to anyone who walked into their home.
“Our mission is to try to prefect the world one deed at a time,” said Rabbi Eisenbach. “We’re going to try to brighten up the world.”
Hundreds turned out to celebrate the torah completion, including Rabbi Nachman and Frida Holtzberg, Gabi’s parents. World renowned singer and composer Baruch Levine, dedicated “Vezakani” to Moisheleh, the Holtzberg’s surviving 2 year old son.