BLESSED BE THE TRUE JUDGE--We Mourn the Victims of Terror in Mumbai
God always answers our prayers, but sometimes the answer is not the one we wanted.
The death toll in Mumbai is now 160, and expected to climb higher. The slain include Chabad Rabbi Gabriel Holtzberg, his wife Rivki and at least three others, probably Israelis. Members of Zaka, the Israeli rescue organization that collects remains of victims following terrorist attacks, has arrived in Mumbai to perform their grim but familiar duties.
Victims at the Oberoi Hotel include Americans Alan Scherr, 58, and his daughter Naomi, 13, from Virginia, who ironically were visiting India with a meditation group. The victims include Indians, Americans, Britains, Japanese, Germans, Italians, Chinese, Australians and Israelis--and sadly that list of nationalities will also grow. Their presence in Mumbai, India symbolized India's successful outreach to the world, her emergence as an international center of business and trade, her freedom, openess, tolerance and diversity--the opposite of everything that the murderous terrorists and their ilk represent.
We mourn all of the slain, and our prayers and hearts go out to their families. Our prayers and hearts also go out to the many injured, some of who face a life of continuous pain and disability.
I derive a small degree of solace from the survival of 18-month old Moshe Holtzberg, a brand snatched from the fire by his nanny and cook, Sandra Samuel, God bless her. Ms. Samuel had locked herself in her room. When she heard Moshe crying outside her door, she opened the door, grabbed him, and ran for safety. CNN reports that Moshe's diaper was stained with blood, not his own.
Did the killers of his parents spare Moshe because of his age? Unlikely, since their mercy did not extend to his mother. More probably, his mother initially hid her infant boy before she was killed. Picture in your mind, dear readers, Moshe coming out of his hiding place and walking over to where his mother lay dead on the floor, touching her, shaking her, getting no response, and in the process staining his diaper with her blood. He then goes to the hallway outside his nanny's bedroom, crying because his mother will not wake up.
This is one of those times when I feel grateful not to be a Christian, because I have no religious obligation whatsoever to forgive the killers of Gabriel and Rivki Holtzberg, Alan and Naomi Scherr and so many others. May God avenge their blood.
UPDATE Sunday, Nov. 30, 2008 at 9:45 p.m.: The names of the other victims murdered by jihadist terrorists at the Chabad House have now been released. As reported by Yeshiva World News, they are:
Norma Rabinovitch-Shvarzblat, a 49-year old mother of three from Mexico, who had played to make aliyah to Israel on Monday. She had worked as a volunteer during recent months in the Mumbai Chabad House. This week, Mrs. Rabinowitz was planning to move to Eretz Yisrael to join her son and his family, who live in Bnei Brak. It was Norma who phoned Israeli consular officials in Delhi on Thursday, with a gun pointed to her head. She told consular officials there were four bodies, including Rabbi and Mrs. Holtzberg.
Yocheved Orpaz, a 62-year old grandmother from the Israeli town of Givataim, who was in Mumbai on a visit to her daughter and two grandchildren.
Bentzion Chroman, a Chasidic Jew from the Bobover sect, who lived in Bat Yam, Israel. He lives behind his widow and three small children, the oldest of whom is three and a half, the youngest just four months old. Reb Chroman worked in kosher inspection, and was visiting India on business. He apparently had dropped by the Mumbai Chabad House to say goodbye to Rabbi and Rebbetzin Holtzberg, and thank them for their hospitality, before he returned to Israel.
Rabbi Aryeh Leibish Teitelbaum, 37, a dual citizen of the United States and Israel, and also a Chasidic kosher inspector visiting India on business, he was the son of HaRav HaTzaddik Rav Nachum Ephraim Teitlebaum Shlita, the Volover Rebbe of Williamsburg, in Brooklyn, New York. Rabbi Teitelbaum lived in Jerusalem, where he lived with his wife and 8 children, the oldest of whom is 13, and the youngest 10 months.
Along with Rabbi Gabriel and Rivka Holtzberg, may their pure and holy souls enjoy eternal life bound with the souls of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Sara, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah, and all of of the righteous souls in Gan Eden (Paradise).