December 8, 2008

Gut-wrenching but Inspirational

The funerals of the kashrus supervisors as well as the rabbi of the Chabad Center in Mumbai and his wife were both nothing short of gut-wrenching. The cries of “tata” (father) and “ima” (mother) made the heart sink as it drove home the enormity of the tragedy in Mumbai. Two rabbis who made a brief stop at the Chabad House on their way to the airport, the engine of the taxi running outside, to pray and grab a quick bite became instant martyrs. The nanny who smuggled little Moshe out of the reach of the brutal murders will long be remembered as an example of human decency in the midst of evil at its worst.

The stories that have emerged about the life of Rabbi Gavriel Noach Holtzberg, the 29-year old Chabad rabbi were nothing short of inspirational. Stories like the rabbi personally going to the market to buy 80 chickens for kosher slaughter to supply visitors and locales with kosher chicken. Aided by his 29-year old wife Rivkah, the couple were kosher slaughterers, chefs, caterers, and hosts for anyone that walked through their doors. No metal detectors. No security checks. Only an open door like the world was before the scourge of terrorism made its debut on the world scene.

My column last week was warmly received by many in the kosher industry because as one e-mail put it: "Even in today’s world there is a great deal of sacrifice by many just to make kosher food available. My grandmother used to go the market in Siget, Hungary and have the chicken slaughtered by a shochet and then she toiled salting, plucking, and preparing the chickens for the family.” Sound familiar? Yes, Mumbai in 2008, before the evil terrorists brought us all back to the realities of 2008.