Friday, December 5, 2008

Terrorist attack in Mumbai: Act of Terror, Act of Anti-Semitism

A couple of weeks ago in Mumbai, India, terrorism hit the city with the death toll of over 180 people and hundreds more killed. Two of those killed were Rabbi Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg, the directors of the Chabad of Mumbai, . For those who do not know what the Chabad organization is, they are an international organization of Orthodox Jews that provide services to Jewish people in the cities they are located in and a place for traveling Jews to come to for all their Jewish needs. The attacks, as well as the horrors of what happened at the Chabad house was preplanned with the Chabad house as one of the targets. This Chabad house in particular was not only a place for traveling Jews, but for the local Jewish community in India which now fears for it's safety.

Three days ago the Jewish/Israeli victims of the Mumbai terrorist attack was buried, the burial was broadcast on Israeli TV.

That was Moshe Holtzberg. He was in the Chabad House of Mumbai during the siege but was saved by his nanny. What he is saying is "Ima" which is Hebrew for "Mommy."

Please click here to donate to the Chabad House of Mumbai to help rebuild the center as well as to help support the surviving children of the Holtzberg's. To all the victims of this horrific act of terrorism, remember you are not alone. You are in our prayers and in our hearts.

The following piece was published in the Times of India. It's an open letter to Moshe:

Dear Moshe,

My heart went out to you when I saw you on television, as your Indian nanny carried you out of Nariman House or Chabad House or shall we say Sabbath House, as it was almost the Sabbath, the day of your liberation. It was hard to figure out as to what was going on, as there were so many people around you. You looked visibly frightened. You did not understand what was going on and clung to your nanny, although your eyes were searching for your parents' comforting presence.

At such a young age, you were already a captive, maybe a tiny hostage in last week's madness. You must have seen so much, maybe then you were in your mother's lap and she must have tried to keep you quiet, whispering comforting words in your ears, so that you would not start crying and annoy the terrorists. At that moment you were just a baby not a Jew, as that is how the terrorists had held your family captive, just because they were Jewish. They had tracked down your family's identity and overnight made you into an orphan. Wonder what made them release you? Did they soften or think that you were a harmless baby or did they want to separate you from your parents, or did they want you to live, so that you would always remember those horrifying days. What a heart-wrenching scene it must have been, to tear you apart from your mother's bosom. Maybe your parents must have let you go as they wanted to save you from the claws of sure death.

Then there was the passage of time when you left Chabad House with your nanny leaving your parents behind. Till they died, they must have never known if you were alive or dead as there was no way of knowing the truth. Your father was a rabbi, well versed in the Hebrew prayers of life and death, and he must have asked the Lord to protect you from such terrifying violence. They say, the death of your parents was a message to the Jews of the Diaspora. But then, Jews as a race have always faced violence throughout history.

Little Moshe, as you leave India with your grandparents to live in Israel, you will again come face to face with bloodshed and violence. Wonder if you will avenge your parents' death or will you work for peace?

Your parents named you Moshe, meaning Moses, and your story is similar to the one in the Bible, where Moses was left to drift in the river Nile, to save him from the Pharaoh's sword and how he became the prince of Egypt and led the Jewish people to freedom. Maybe, you will also choose the path of freedom and peace. Because, you survived in India, the only country in the world where Jews were never persecuted and with your survival, I experience an iota of hope in this terrifying medley of hate, violence and death.

You are just two years old and maybe all you have learnt to say so far, is shalom peace be with you' .

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