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Rabbi Mendel Dubrawsky: They were lamplighters

Posted on 03 December 2008 by admin

Like the Holtzbergs, you must ‘leave your comfort zone’ to make sense of this tragedy

The lights were dim and the mood was somber Tuesday night during a memorial service held at Chabad of Dallas to honor Rabbi Gavriel and Rivkah Holtzberg and others who died during the attacks in Mumbai last week.

In his moving remarks, Rabbi Mendel Dubrawsky, who pioneered the Chabad movement in Dallas some 25 years ago, said that the Holtzbergs were the epitome of shluchim and shluchot (emissaries). They left the comforts of home, in Crown Heights and Israel, to be of service to Jews abroad. It was not a comfortable post, but they accepted their charge with vigor and grace. “They were lamplighters,” he said.

He also reminded everyone that little Moishe, the Holtzbergs’ orphaned son, was not the first Moshe to be rescued by a non-Jew. That original Moshe grew to be the leader of all the Jewish people.

“We must fight darkness with light…. What happened in Mumbai was very sad, but it motivates us to grow,” he said. “It is time for us to start the process of healing and honor those who died because they were innocent people.”
A brief video presentation that highlighted the tragic events of the day Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his wife Rivkah were murdered by terrorists began the service. “Avinu Malkeinu” was played in the background, and many tears were shed.

Rabbi Menachem Block of Chabad of Plano thanked the capacity crowd for their outpouring of support. He said the attack on Chabad was not only an attack on all Jews, but also an attack on anyone who values peace, goodness and kindness.

Earlier in the day, Rabbi Block said it was important to have a vigil as a way for the entire community to come together.
“This is a tragedy that affects Jews and all mankind and we are all connected to this tragedy,” he said. “We came together tonight not only to mourn, but to take inspiration about how we are going to respond to it. It’s everyone’s tragedy…. We must show God and the world that from adversity and misery will come strength and growth.”
Rabbi Howard Wolk led everyone in the Hebrew and ­English renditions of Psalm 23.

Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas Chairman Carol Aaron said people around the world feel pain and anguish and the Jewish community has become united. She added that we should never forget how Jews have overcome many types of diversity and need to do all we can to combat hatred.

Solidifying the connection with Jews living in India, Raymond Abraham, who lived in India at one time, lit a candle in memory of the Holtzbergs. Cantor Itzhak Zhrebker of Shearith Israel chanted “El Moleh Rachamim” in Hebrew, and Federation President and CEO Gary Weinstein led everyone in the English version.

Rabbi Zvi Drizin added a musical element to the service when he played “Avinu Malkeinu” on his flute. In this hymn that connected with Jews from all backgrounds, everyone’s voices could be heard during the spiritually uplifting moment.
Shortly after Rabbi and Mrs. Holtzberg were murdered, Rabbi Dubrawsky of Chabad of Dallas released a YouTube video. Speaking softly and visibly pained, he said, “This event was brought into everyone’s bedroom. It was watched in real time. It was unfolding minute by minute. It caused anxiety. It made every person feel that this Chabad rabbi looked like their own Chabad rabbi. And it became very personal. It was not thousands of miles away and 3,000 years ago. It was now.”

Rabbi Dubrawsky added that what unites us as a community is always greater than what divides us. He said tragedies must force people to become better and reach out to make this world a better place.

Prior to the service, Rabbi Dov Mandel of Chabad of Fort Worth told the TJP that by getting together, we can affirm that there is pain within the entire Jewish community.

“The Jewish people are like one body and we all feel it,” he said, somberly. “When something unfortunate happens to us, we need to have strength and move on despite our pain. Having the community come together brings comfort.”

And the fact that the community was there for each other helped ease the pain. But for one woman, Einav Grosser, the tragedy in Mumbai really hit home. This is something that will remain in her memory for years to come.

“My husband and I were shocked and were praying and hoping that they [the Holtzbergs] would still be alive,” she said. “And we think of their 2-year-old son who is our son’s age. It’s terrible for him to not have his parents.”

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