The Upper West Side community joined in a display of unity at Chabad of the West Side’s Mumbai Tribute on Motzei Shabbat Parshat Vayeitze, December 6.
Following the evening services and Havdalah, a moving tribute to the victims of the terrorist attack in India took place in a heated tent erected on the patio at Chabad’s location at 92nd Street and Columbus.
More than 500 people gathered, with the tent’s overflow filling up the adjoining patio. The rest of the crowd watched the program through a live video feed in the Synagogue.
Executive director Rabbi Shlomo Kugel related his impressions of the Holtzberg funeral in Israel, which he attended together with dozens of Shluchim from around the world. He was particularly struck by the unity and Ahavat Yisroel that was displayed during this very difficult time, and how that feeling has swept through the Jewish world in the aftermath of the attacks. He urged the audience to build upon this unity and transform our collective pain by doing constructive acts of goodness.
Rabbi Kugel then introduced speakers who shared their personal memories of time spent with the Holtzbergs at the Chabad House in Mumbai.
Rabbi Joseph Telushkin recounted how Rabbi Holtzberg took him and his family on a personal tour of the Mikvah and local Synagogues. He was particularly moved by their dedication to their mission, despite personal hardships and the challenging environment.
Yeshiva University graduate student Hillary Lewin spoke about the warm friendship she developed with the Holtzbergs over the five weeks she stayed in Mumbai. Inspired by the Holtzberg’s commitment to sharing the beauty of Yiddishkeit, and their warm and welcoming home, she encouraged the assembled to light Shabbat candles in their merit, recite morning blessings and reach out to others in kindness.
The JEM video, “Mission of Love” which highlighted the Holtzberg’s activities in India, was watched by a spellbound and emotional crowd. Rabbi Kugel closed the evening by urging everyone to fill in Mitzvah Pledge cards and write notes of condolences to the families to be given to the bereaved. He noted that people could log their Mitzvot commitment on the Chabad.org site, as well.
As they left the Chabad House, people recited Kiddush Levana (Sanctification of the New Moon) together under a moonlit sky.