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Saturday, November 29, 2008


I have a difficult time with a certain blessing. I understand well the reason behind "Blessed be the True Judge."

I just can't always say it.

This week was one of those times when the words choked in my throat. Like many in the world, we watched Islamic terrorism butcher innocents in Mumbai, but in our case, beyond hoping and praying for all the innocents murdered for simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time, we prayed especially for Rabbi Gavriel and Rivkah Holtzberg. Not that we knew them personally, but in a sense, we did.

Everything my husband and I know about Judaism we learned from Chabad. Other people I'm sure have found other equally comforting sources of knowledge and inspiration, but Chabad was a perfect match for us. We know people like the Holtzbergs: our two rabbis and their wives in California, young Jewish couples who have left the comforts of their homes, their families, giving up the security and conveniences of living in a chassidische community, so that they can help reconnect Jews to their faith. They're not missionaries -- it's more like a Jewish smorgasbord: here's how to keep a kosher kitchen, if you want to; here's a course on Ramban, if you're interested; we can show you how to lay tefillin if you'd like to learn....never any pressure to conform, never any pressure to adhere to Jewish orthodoxy -- halacha was there for the taking, along with warmth, friendliness, and good (kosher) meals on Shabbat.

So it broke our hearts to hear that Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg died horribly in a terror attack by Islamic terrorists who targeted their Chabad House. They were young, idealistic kids who were prepared to devote their lives to giving Jewish locals and tourists a place to study, to eat, to find friendship and welcome in a distant land. They've left two small children behind who will never grow up with their parents' love and warmth to guide them.

Chabad House isn't a military institution. It isn't anything other than the rabbi's home that he opens to those who want to learn, or to pray, or to visit or to simply eat kosher food while backpacking through India. A man, a wife, two small children --this is a military target for armed Islamists bent on jihad?!

So why were they killed? Why was their home attacked?

Because they're Jews. Like the Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires, Chabad House was attacked because it is emblematic of a Jewish presence in Mumbai. It's a very small Jewish presence, granted, but there is a Jewish community in Mumbai dating back to antiquity. It's a Jewish community that pre-dates the rise of Islam, survived it, and survived the Portuguese Inquisition, and still thrived.

This week's Islamic terror attack wasn't an attack on Jews alone. This was an attack on everything jihadist terror wants to destroy: Jews, modernity, "westerners" (allegedly Brits and Americans, but many others died in these attacks), but mostly Indians.

Why? Their demand was to return "Moslem land" to Moslems....presumably meaning India, which was once subject to Moslem conquerors.

One terror team opened fire on a train station platform, randomly shooting into the crowd of commuters waiting for trains to take them home from work to their families, mowing them down indiscriminantly. This is not "resistance" or "jihad" -- this is simply mass murder.

A team of terrorists hijacked a police van, then used it to approach a crowd gathered outside of a hospital searching for relatives -- and then opened fire on the crowd.

Following the seizure of the Chabad House, two locals were killed by the terrorists who shot them from the upper stories of Chabad -- and these two victims were neighborhood Moslems who happened to be passing by. The killers made no effort to distinguish between Moslems and non-Moslems in their killing rampage.

A Japanese father of two in India on business was gunned down as he checked in at the hotel.

A 13-year-old Virginia girl, in India with her father as part of a meditation group, was murdered while eating dinner with Dad in the Oberai Hotel.

Two Australian men, in India as part of a trade delegation, were gunned down.

Two Canadians were murdered.

Singaporean Lo Hoei Yen, was held hostage and then killed. (He's not a "westerner" -- proof that like virtually all bullies and gangsters, under this facade of "resistance" and "liberation" beats the true heart of "Islamic resistance" which is more properly called Terrorism -- sheer, bloody, unadulterated murderousness.)

Old people: Antonio di Lorenzo, age 63, of Livorno, Tuscany, Italy; Cypriot Andreas Dionysiou Liveras, 73. Yeah, those old, unarmed tourists visiting India are a real threat to the Islam....

The founder of a French clothing company, Loumia Hiridjee, and her French husband, Mourad Amarsay were murdered. Hiridjee, founder of the Princess Tam Tam lingerie and clothing line, was born in Madagascar to Indian traders and moved to France in 1972 to attend boarding school.

German television producer Ralph Burkei, age 51, was murdered at the Taj Mahal Hotel.

I wonder if jihadists' suicidal ideology is going to be their undoing? It's one thing to kill Jews--we've always been a small group, and vulnerable, even in a state of our own. But in the last decade, they've attacked the United States and brought American troops to the Middle East in numbers unimagined prior to 9/11....and now they are apparently determined to open a front in India, home of over 1 billion infidels who have never been really pleased with Pakistan's "theft" of their land.

Maybe I should open my heart to this blessing. Maybe The True Judge will pass true judgement on the murderers, and on their puppet-masters, and those who support them.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

There's a midrash which says when we say at the end of Aleinu "Hashem echad u'shmo echad" it means that we'll say the same bracha when we hear bad news that we say when we hear good news -- "hatov v'hamativ (who is good and who causes good)." Because in that time we will we realize in a deep way that everything comes from God, and therefore everything is good. But we (well, most of us anyway) aren't at that level. Saying "baruch dayan haemet" is hard enough. It's certainly hard to figure out how to say "gam zu l'tovah" when confronted with a situation like this.

Saturday, November 29, 2008 at 10:53:00 PM GMT+2  
Blogger Jack Steiner said...

These murderers deserve all that they have coming to them.

Monday, December 1, 2008 at 2:16:00 AM GMT+2  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Beautiful post.

Monday, December 1, 2008 at 6:34:00 PM GMT+2  

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