Jewish center honors Mumbai victims

Published: Friday, Dec. 5 2008 12:41 a.m. MST

Abe Katz lights a candle during a memorial service at Chabad Lubavitch of Utah in Salt Lake City for those who died in the Jewish Center during the Mumbai attack.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

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Though it happened far away, it hit home.

The recent violence in Mumbai, India, left six Jews and many others dead after the violence was stopped by Indian police and military.

To honor the dead, Rabbi Benny Zippel of the Chabad Lubavitch of Utah, a Jewish center in Salt Lake City, held a memorial service and a lecture titled "Faith and Suffering: Where is God When it Hurts?" Thursday, given by Rabbi Dov Greenberg of Stanford University.

Zippel asked those present to light a candle for the deceased if they desired, but he said, "there was a charge." The charge was not to be paid with money but with a mitzvah, a pledge of good deeds. The room filled with the smell of smoke as people came forward to honor and pledge.

After the slain were honored by the congregation, Zippel asked dignitaries from various Jewish congregations to light bigger candles to honor the dead and to show solidarity.

The lives of two of those slain, Rabbi Gavriel and his wife, Rivka Holtzberg, were profiled. They went to Mumbai to start the Chabad center. Their 2-year-old son, Mosche, survived the attack, found by his nanny, wearing bloody clothes.

"Where is God when it hurts?" Greenberg asked.

He said it is difficult to understand a good, loving and caring God when things such as the killing of innocent people happen, and there are no sure answers.

Two answers often given: Either there is no objective meaning to life, only chaos. Or there is no bad. If a person sees bad, he or she isn't looking at life correctly.

"Friends, Judaism is caught in the contradiction of both," Greenberg said.

God gave free will to man, Greenberg said, to do either good or evil. He used an example of a Holocaust survivor who was mad at God for allowing the Holocaust to happen.

"What's your issue with God?" a man asked the survivor.

He asked how he could have faith in a God that allowed such a terrible thing to happen to the Jews.

"How can you have faith in humanity?" the man asked the survivor.

The evil perpetrated on Jews, though tragic, shouldn't stop them.

"That is the Jewish response to move forward," Greenberg said.

He said the Jewish response to tragedy is to hold on to it, hold tight, until it is turned around for something good. Where six Jews were killed, more will go to fill the gap. If a building is flattened, more will be erected in its place.


E-mail: lwilde@desnews.com

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