Time to act

Chabad Jewish Center remembers those slain in Mumbai, India, during special memorial service

"It's not enough to sit back and watch," said Mirsky, of Peoria. "When there is a terrorist attack, everyone is affected, so everyone should be do something positive in response."

Mirsky was one of several dozen people who gathered at the Chabad Jewish Center of Peoria on Sunday morning for a memorial service honoring American Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his wife, Rivka, who were slain Wednesday in the Mumbai attacks.

The memorial service included traditional Jewish prayers as well as a video memorializing the hundreds killed in last week's attacks.

The Holtzbergs, who moved from Brooklyn, N.Y., to India in 2003 to spread Judaism, and several other hostages were found dead Friday by Indian commandos in the Nariman House, a Jewish outreach and education center in a bustling Mumbai neighborhood.

Rabbi Eli Langsam of Chabad Lubavitch of Peoria went to school with Gavriel Holtzberg in Brooklyn, one of the factors that prompted Langsam to host the memorial mitzvah on Sunday.

"We can't understand the ways of God," Langsam said during the memorial. "We are all saddened by this news, and we extend sympathy to the families of the victims and pray for a speedy recovery of all who were injured."

Langsam said the Holtzbergs opened their home and provided meals every night to Jews of all denominations. Langsam urged those who attended the memorial service to follow the couple's example.

"Most of us did not know them personally, but we must make sure their path is continued," Langsam said. "We have to bring goodness and kindness to this dark world and vanish this atrocity."

Langsam said Jews and people of all religious backgrounds should perform a mitzvah, an act of human kindness, in memory of those killed in India. For Jews, the most popular means of fulfilling the mitzvah is by lighting Shabbat candles, he said.

Andrea Nathan of Miami, who was in Peoria visiting family for Thanksgiving, attended the memorial service and said she plans to light Shabbat candles in memory of the Holtzbergs.

"It's about recognizing the lives that have been lost and finding some way to cope with it," she said. "Lighting Shabbat candles would mean a lot to those who have died, so while their deaths are difficult to deal with, we must come together and show respect for life."

Erin Wood can be reached at 686-3194 or [email protected].



Iris Decker of Peoria reflects on the deaths of a young Jewish couple killed in Mumbai last week during a memorial service at Chabad of Peoria Sunday.

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