Australia’s prime minister honors Holtzbergs

SYDNEY, Australia (JTA) – Australia’s prime minister paid tribute to the Chabad couple who were killed in the Mumbai terror attacks last month.

In a videotaped message, Kevin Rudd told more than 1,000 people at a memorial service Tuesday night in Sydney that Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his wife, Rivkah, had “devoted their lives to acts of goodness and kindness and compassion for others.”

Rudd added: “But they lost their lives in a senseless act of hatred. In the face of this terror we must not bow to fear. We must respond by spreading our own message of tolerance and respect for people of other backgrounds and other beliefs.”

The service was held at the Yeshiva Center, the New South Wales headquarters of Chabad-Lubavitch in Bondi.

Rabbi Pinchus Feldman, the chief rabbi of Chabad in New South Wales, said the Lubavitch movement would “never forget the heroism” of the Holtzbergs’ nanny, Sandra Samuel, who saved the couple’s 2-year-old son, Moshe.

Four other Jews were slain with the Holtzbergs inside Mumbai’s Chabad House. A total of 172 people, including two Australians, were killed in the attacks, which targeted 10 sites across India’s financial capital last month. 

Federal Opposition leader Malcolm Turnbull also spoke at the ceremony. U.S. Consul-General Judith Fergin read a condolence letter to Chabad from President Bush and President-elect Barack Obama. A representative from the Indian Consulate also was present.

In a speech to Federal Parliament last week, Michael Danby, a Jewish member of the ruling Labor Party, said it was important to remember the names of the innocent victims of Mumbai attacks.

“I raise my voice in this national parliament and praise the memory of those innocent kedoshim who were killed in the Chabad House in Mumbai only because they were Jews,” Danby said.

A similar memorial was held last week in Melbourne.

NEXT STORY