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Chabad honors pair slain in India

Chabad honors pair slain in India

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venturacountystar.com


Chabad honors pair slain in India

"The question is, what can we do? It calls for us to leave our comfort zones."
Rabbi Aryeh Lang, of Chabad of Camarillo

Rabbis Dov Muchnik, left, and Yakov Latowicz gather at Chabad of Ventura on Sunday to remember Rabbi Gavriel Noach Holtzberg and his wife, Rivkah, killed in terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India.

Photo by Karen Quincy Loberg

Rabbis Dov Muchnik, left, and Yakov Latowicz gather at Chabad of Ventura on Sunday to remember Rabbi Gavriel Noach Holtzberg and his wife, Rivkah, killed in terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India.

 
Turn pain into growth and darkness into light.

That was the message Sunday during a memorial and prayer service organized by the Chabad centers in Ventura, Oxnard and Camarillo for Rabbi Gavriel Noach and Rivkah Holtzberg, who were killed Thursday along with three other hostages at the Chabad house in Mumbai, India, during the terrorist attacks there.

The Holtzbergs' 2-year-old son, Moshe, was smuggled out of the building and is being cared for by grandparents.

"The way we view this is as spiritual darkness," Rabbi Dov Muchnik, of Chabad of Oxnard, said before the memorial at the Ventura center. He was a friend of Gavriel Holtzberg. "You can't get rid of darkness with guns and bats and grenades. ... We now need to do what they (the Holtzbergs) would have done."

Memorial services for the couple have been held at Chabad centers all over the world, including one at Chabad of the Conejo in Agoura Hills on Sunday.

The Holtzbergs had been working in Mumbai since 2003. They operated the Nariman House and ministered to the local Jewish population as well as to visitors. Chabad is a New York-based movement that aims to reconnect Jews with the religion and promote good works.

During the service, Chabad of Ventura Director Rabbi Yakov Latowicz told the more than 80 people in attendance how the Holtzbergs had left New York to work in a place vastly different from what they were used to. The Chabad house provided hospitality for all kinds of people, and Rivkah Holtzberg made kosher food from scratch for as many as 30 people each day.

"It was the address of every Jew passing through India," Latowicz said. "They were our best, and as it turns out, they were our bravest."

Denyse Specktor, who works as an assistant at the Chabad of Oxnard, said the terrorists' decision to target the Chabad center strikes close to home at a time when there are still many Holocaust survivors.

"It hurts our hearts," she said.

Rabbi Aryeh Lang, of Chabad of Camarillo, read psalms aloud with those in attendance and chanted a memorial prayer in Hebrew.

"The question is, what can we do?" Lang said. "It calls for us to leave our comfort zones."

Shabbat candles, which are traditionally lit by Jewish women on Friday nights to symbolize light and peace, were handed out at the service. On the backs of programs were suggestions for actions that could be performed in response to the Holtzbergs' killings. They included giving to charity and religious observances.

Those in attendance could check off which actions they would take, and Muchnik said their responses would be communicated to the Holtzbergs' families.

 
 
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