A friend of mine who belongs to the Lubavitch movement began sending me emails shortly after we all learned last week of how terrorists in Mumbai savagely tortured and killed the inhabitants of the Chabad Lubavitch center in that city. I am not sure why the U.S. media aren’t reporting the torture aspect but the European and Israeli media are as you can see with this link.
How has this group of very orthodox Jews reacted to the murders of an American man and his Israeli wife? By giving suggestions of how to keep alive the spirits of those who died by increasing in good deeds and lighting Sabbath candles in remembrance of Rabbi Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg. One Florida rabbi revealed in an email that a couple has already applied to take the Holtzberg’s place. “We must take the pain and turn it into action with an infusion of light and positive energy,” he wrote. The Chabad House at the University of Washington in Seattle is sponsoring a week-long event in this couple’s memory. “This has been the Chabad response to every tragedy - the lower the springboard dips, the higher it springs,” their press release said.
The Holtzbergs essentially ran a hospitality house for Jews visiting the area. One wonders how their Muslim killers found out about them. Since these terrorists were from Pakistan, what Mumbai insider clued them in to the existence of the Chabad house? As for the Holtzbergs, they had already endured their share of tragedies before this. Their oldest child died of Tay-Sachs disease and they had left behind a second child in Israel to get treatment there.
The tragedy of it all keeps on piling on. Meanwhile, the Chabadniks are not giving up. People of all religions could learn from their tenacity.
And the chit-chat at Chabad’s main site is quite instructive. The “ask the rabbi” feature is filled with theodicy questions from readers such as: Why weren’t they protected? Where did all our prayers go? Why did God create evil? No one knows but basically, the rabbi says, whether God intervenes to protect or not, the Jews are not going to give up on Him.
“A person can decide one of two ways,” the rabbi said. “Either there is no God and whoever is stronger or bigger wins. Or there is a God and He is good, only we are not so smart to understand all things.”
- Julia Duin, religion editor