'She Screamed for Help as Terrorist Talked with Rabbi on Phone'

A Chabad rabbi, trying to phone Rabbi Holtzberg, heard his wife scream for help. Photo: The late Rebbe blesses young Gavriel Holtzberg.

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Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu,

Lubavitch rabbi with Gavriel Holtzberg
Lubavitch rabbi with Gavriel Holtzberg
(courtesy of Chabad)

Chabad Rabbi Levi Shem Tov said he tried to phone Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg at the Chabad House in Mumbai during the terrorist attack that ended his life and that of his wife and four others Jews in the building. A terrorist, who indentified himself as Imram, answered the phone, and Rabbi Shem Tov heard Rivka Holtzberg screaming in English, "Please help immediately."

The terrorist originally ended the first phone conversation, saying that he spoke only the Urdu language. Rabbi Shem Tov found an Urdu speaker and called again. The terrorist said the rabbi was alive and well and would be freed if demands were met.

Rabbi Shem Tov related that he told the terrorist he would contact the Indian government to give them what they wanted, but when the rabbi asked to speak with Rabbi Holtzberg, the terrorist replied, "You have already asked for too much."

After another two or three phone calls, "Imram" said the phone was dying and he hung up.
Chabad officials expect to bury the Holtzberg couple on Tuesday, one day later than planned due to delays in obtaining visas for forensic experts who arrived in Mumbai early Monday morning, Israeli time.
The delegation includes IDF and other rabbis, ZAKA identification officials and a police forensic team. New York Senator Hillary Clinton intervened to help obtain emergency passports to Mumbai for two older brothers of the Holtzberg family in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, Chabad reported. 
The bodies of Rabbi Holtzberg and his wife will be brought to the 770 Center in Kfar Chabad before the procession to the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, where the couple's older son was buried approximately two years ago after an illness.

Their surviving child, two-year-old Moshe Tzvi, is with Rivka Holtzberg's parents after the family's nanny escaped with him from the Chabad House.

The Chabad-Lubavitch movement has launched a new Torah learning program in memory of Rabbi Holtzberg and his wife, with nightly study of Mishnayot of the Talmud.

Chabad Leader Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson blesses the young Gavriel Holtzberg

Chabad also has released a video showing Rabbi Holtzberg as a young boy receiving a blessing from the late leader of the worldwide Chabad-Lubavitch movement, the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, who gave him a dollar after learning mishnayot. "You should give this to Tzedakah [charity] for all of the matters; may there be good news," the Rebbe told the young boy.

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