Posted on November 30th, 2008

May Hashem avenge their blood.

May Hashem avenge their blood.

Many years ago I became curious about traditional Judaism. A friend suggested I drive to his house one Saturday morning, and he and I would go to an Orthodox Synagogue and speak with the Rabbi. I was a little nervous because I had never been in an Orthodox Synagogue before. I imagined that the people there would be fairly cross with me for having the audacity to drive on Saturday. Yet I looking forward to arguing with someone about ancient, backward Jewish traditions, so I eagerly accepted his invitation.

We went and spoke with the Rabbi, and I could not seem to get him upset with me. I mentioned that I had no desire to keep Shabbat or give up eating Octopus sushi. Instead of getting angry he told me how glad he was that I had come to Chabad that day for Shabbat. I tried pushing him more by suggesting that I would go watch a football game on television after the service. He handed me a bowl of cholent and asked if I had ever thought about the nature of G-d. My quest to tick him off and provoke an argument was getting me nowhere so I played my best card: I had married a non-Jewish woman and we were expecting our first child. He wished me a Mazal Tov and told me I was welcome to come to his Shabbat service and learn with him anytime I wanted.

He opened a door for me and did not request an entrance fee. And I discovered what thousands and thousands of Jews have also learned – the Chabad movement exists because we have a powerful, important Jewish heritage, and some people don’t want us to miss out. Rather than being cross with me, the Rabbi was genuinely happy that I WANTED to come and argue about how much better it was to run around seven days a week without rest than to observe Shabbat.

Over the next few years, I met more and more people who were part of the Chabad movement. Need a Shabbat meal? Want someone to help you set up a kosher kitchen? How about just a friendly “Shabbat Shalom” as you drive by on Saturday? What sort of person would find ten Jewish men to come pay a shiva call for someone he has never met and who has not been in a shul for a few decades? A Chabad guy, that’s who.

The world is full of Jews and Israelis who are out exploring exotic places and trying to find themselves. Yet wherever they are, whether Katmandu or Mumbai – they know that there is a Chabad House not too far away where they can get help. Yes there may be an Israeli consulate around too, but I doubt you are going to get a good cholent there.

And that is why the Mumbai terrorists chose their target carefully. Chabad is a much bigger threat to Al Queda, Hamas, and all their cowardly friends than anywhere else. Because Chabad teaches us that Judaism should be a source of pride, not shame. Chabad makes Jews proud of their heritage, proud of their fellow Jews, and proud of their land of Israel.

A Jew who has spent time with Chabad is not one to be ashamed that Jews possess – and yes – occupy the land of Israel. A Jew who has absorbed some of the “flavor” of Chabad doesn’t see “injustice” in a Jewish settlement, he sees injustice in the expulsion from Gush Katif, the abandonment of Sderot, and the kidnapping and imprisonment of Gilad Shalit. Such a person stands against everything the terrorist-cowards believe in.

So now we all mourn the lives of several amazing people who dedicated their lives to helping others. Yet with all their machine guns, hand-grenades, and bombs – the terrorists have failed miserabley in their mission. I have no doubt that before too long there will be at least a dozen new Chabad houses named after the Holtzbergs and a thousand young people ready to follow in their footsteps.

They may have passed away, but their ideals will live on.

Sounds like someone else associated with Chabad, don’t you think?

May the Holtzbergs’ memory inspire Jews around the world and throughout our blessed nation.


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