2-year-old Moshe arrives with rescuer

Grandparents to take over Mumbai mission; terror victims' bodies flown from India ahead of funerals.

mumbai coffins 248.88 (photo credit: GPO)
mumbai coffins 248.88
(photo credit: GPO)
Just before the body of Rivka Holtzberg, 28, her husband, Rabbi Gavriel, 29, and four other Jews killed by Muslim terrorists in Mumbai last week were flown back to Israel on Monday, her father promised that his family would continue her emissary work for Chabad in the same city where she died. "My wife and I will continue their [Rivka and Gavriel's] mission, to carry out the work of the Rebbe here, at least until [their son], Moishe, grows up and then he will continue it," Afula's Rabbi Shimon Rosenberg told reporters, breaking into tears as he spoke. His son, Yossi, told The Jerusalem Post from his Haifa home that it was still unclear whether it would be his parents or other members of the Holtzberg family who would return to Mumbai in the name of the couple who had lived there and operated the Chabad house since 2003. "There is no comfort for what happened. But we can remember Gabi and Rivki if we are connected to the place where they lived. My parents are taking full responsibility for the continuation of my sister's work," he said. Shimon and his wife, Yehudit, had flown to India immediately after hearing of the attack. They were due to arrive back in Israel late Monday night on an IDF plane that carried the six bodies, including those of Aryeh Leibish Teitelbaum, 37; Bentzion Kruman, 28; Yocheved Orpaz, 62, and Norma Shvarzblat Rabinovich, 50. Upon their return late Monday night, the state was scheduled to hold a small private ceremony for the victims, after which a number of the families planned to hold burial ceremonies on Tuesday. The Holtzbergs' funeral will begin in Kfar Chabad on Tuesday. Mourners will proceed from there to Jerusalem to bury the couple on the Mount of Olives. Among those on the flight back to Israel Monday night was Holtzberg's two-year-old son Moshe, who was saved from the building by his Indian nanny Sandra Samuel, to whom he has clung since the rescue. An Interior Ministry spokeswoman said Monday that no formal request had been made as yet for Samuel to receive either permanent or temporary residency in Israel. However, she added that Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit was willing to find a solution that would allow the woman, an Indian native, to stay here, at least for the short-term. In Mumbai, Samuel worked on obtaining an entry visa up until the last minute and so missed the ceremony held earlier in the day at a Mumbai synagogue for the six victims. During the ceremony, Shimon Rosenberg quoted from the book of Job, and said, "The Lord giveth. The Lord taketh away. Blessed be the name of the Lord." Wearing a green T-shirt and clutching a red ball, Moshe had a hard time sitting still in the synagogue as he sat on the lap of Samuel's friend and looked about for his missing parents. "Mommy, Mommy," he cried out, with his head flung back, in a voice that echoed through the sanctuary and was filmed by Israeli television and showed a number of times in Israel throughout the evening. The camera also took the viewers back to the Chabad house, which had been under siege for three days. It showed the burned and bullet-torn walls and the overturned furniture. Among the items that will be returned to Israel, according to the media, is Rivka's wedding ring and the Torah scroll that was in the home and which was torn during the battle. But even as the relatives in Israel waited for the return of the bodies, the family of Teitelbaum, a hassid from the Toldos Avraham Yitzhak sect, rejected Israel's offer to include him in the official memorial ceremony at Ben-Gurion Airport. In line with their group's anti-Zionist stance, the family emphasized that they wanted no government involvement in the burial of Teitelbaum's remains, nor did they did want Teitelbaum's coffin to be wrapped in an Israeli flag as those of the other Jewish and Israeli victims would be. They also requested that the body be released immediately upon the plane's arrival so that they would be able to hold a funeral for him as soon as possible. But government officials responded sharply to the requests, saying the family's opposition to the state did not discount the fact that the state had in fact retrieved Teitelbaum's remains from India and brought them back to Israel. "An Israel Air Force jet picked him up, and it will be an Israel Air Force jet bringing him down," said MK Ya'akov Edri before the plane was due to land on Monday. Edri, who heads the Ministerial Committee on Symbols and Ceremonies, was to meet the plane at Ben-Gurion Airport Monday night, along with the families and the remains of their loved ones on board. "The State of Israel took care of him, and he will have a flag of the State of Israel on his coffin. There will be a short ceremony at the airport, they'll say Kaddish, and then the family can bury him however they'd like to. You know, at the end of the day, they're all Jews." But Teitelbaum's relatives and members of his Toldos Avraham Yitzhak community made it clear that they did not want his coffin to be included in any official ceremony, adding that holding a state-sponsored ceremony for someone who opposed the state was tantamount to desecrating his memory. It was unclear at press time however, whether the family planned to take the matter any further. Teitelbaum, who had an American passport, disavowed his Israeli citizenship despite residing in Jerusalem. His wife and eight children hold Israeli citizenship. Teitelbaum's funeral will be held in Jerusalem and is expected to be attended by hundreds of hassidim. The Toldos Avraham Yitzhak rebbe, who cut short his visit to the United States, will also be in attendance. At the home of Kruman's parents in Bat-Yam, where family members awaited the return of the casket, his father Howard Barry Kruman told the Post that he had no problem with having an Israeli flag draped over his son's coffin. "I am not against it," said Kruman, who made aliya from Chicago more than 30 years ago. All of his 10 children had been born in Israel, he said. He and his wife were in New York, where they had flown to attend a wedding, when they first heard of the attack. Initially he thought his son would come out of it alive. But by Friday, as they traveled on to Chicago, where he prayed for his son's safe return by uttering psalms, "I was plenty worried," Kruman said. Just before Shabbat, officials from the American Embassy in India contacted him to tell him that his son, who he had last seen just six days earlier in Israel, was among the dead. The funeral, he said, would likely be sometime on Tuesday in Bnai Brak. His son, he said, had been capable, smart and a loving father to his three small children. In their last conversation, the Saturday night before he left on what was to have been a brief trip to India to check on some issues involving kosher food, his son stopped by for a visit. They spoke and then embraced before his son departed. "We kissed each other as a father and son kiss each other and he left. I was not worried. Who would be worried?" he asked. Ruth Eglash and AP contributed to this story.