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Mumbai - A Year Later

It’s hard to believe a year has already passed. But, it was last November when we were anxiously following the horrors unfold as the news came across that my colleagues, Gabi and Rivky Holtzberg, were murdered along with four others at the Chabad House of Mumbai, India. 

The immense pain and grief that followed were inevitable. The question of how G-d can allow a tragedy of this magnitude to occur was expected as well. But, in true Chabad fashion, so were the resolutions to not allow these acts of terror to go unanswered. 

At Gabi and Rivky’s funeral, Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky, vice chairman of Chabad’s international educational arm, proclaimed between sobs that the only true way to fight evil is with light. Darkness has no existence of its own, and by countering it with vast amounts of goodness we will be proven to have prevailed over our enemies. 

Rivky’s father, Rabbi Shimon Rosenberg, then announced that he intended on lighting a large Menorah in the square across from the Taj Mahal hotel, the terrorists’ other target. And, indeed, three weeks later, under strong security and with great publicity, Menorahs were lit not only in the square, but also on the balcony of the severely damaged Chabad House. 

Around the world, initiatives in memory of Gabi and Rivky were being documented. Ranging from establishing new educational and religious institutions, to naming newborns “Gavriel” and “Rivka,” these commitments were a statement to the world that we will not allow the cowardly acts of terrorism to hinder our goal of making the world a better place.

But it was one unique pledge, whose results haven’t been realized until recently, that makes this all the more poignant. 

This came several days after the funeral, when things began returning to a semblance of normal. A colleague from Pennsylvania posted on an internal forum that there was a fertility expert in his community who, in memory of the Holtzbergs, was wiling to consult and treat any Chabad couple dealing with infertility. 

He had heard that the Lubavitcher Rebbe believed the most potent response to the horrors of the Holocaust, the eternal “never again,” was to keep the Jewish nation alive by overcoming the fears of repopulating. The Rebbe taught that one does not defeat challenges by running from them; instead we are expected to turn our challenges into opportunities. 

So this particular doctor took it upon himself, as his personal response to the Mumbai terror attacks and as a gift to the Holtzbergs, to actively help bring more Jews into the world. 

Earlier this month, a friend from Colorado in his 40’s who was experiencing infertility for nearly a decade, posted on his Facebook page “Mazal Tov – twin girls! Thank G-d everyone is doing well.” He went on to thank the rabbi and doctor from Pennsylvania for assisting in making this dream a reality. 

The gush of emotion which followed was truly overwhelming; live and tangible proof that nothing can overpower the Jewish nation’s spirit of survival. We will always be strong and prosper in the face of all adversity! 

Am Yisrael Chai!

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