Seven years ago, on Rosh Chodesh Kislev 2008, Rabbi Gavriel and Rivkah Holtzberg were slaughtered in the Hariman House in Mumbai India. Their two-year-old son Moshy was saved by his nanny Sandra, who hid between two fridges until she heard him crying. She risked her own life to save him and, when they were brought to Israel, was given instant citizenship, never before accorded to a non-Jew.
The world was aghast at the brutal savagery of the attack.
A week ago, the annual banquet for the conference of Chabad rabbis, collectively called the Kinus, took place in New York. The date of the conference always coincides with the murders in Mumbai. Attendance to this event has grown over the years, with about 5200 people at the banquet this year. Astounding.
About a week before the banquet, I read they were bringing Moshy Holtzberg, (where he now lives in Israel with his grandparents) to read psalms (tehillim). I thought to myself it’s too early. He’s only 9 years old. He’s too young, too tender to be in the limelight. I was wrong. He represented the theme of the evening: that, as Jews, we have won over the Germans and we will survive the barbaric Arabs.
Fast-forward one week and the world has come yet again face to face with brutality at its most base. People who murder in cold blood, are able to stare directly at those they are about to kill and say it is for the honour of their religion, have totally distorted whatever religion they purport to represent.
The biggest question now is what the Western democracies are going to do. It has become clear that the terrorists are not a rag-tag operation. They are sophisticated, well-armed, intelligent, and prepared to die for their cause.
Despite the ignorant rhetoric spouted by many of our world ‘leaders,’ make no mistake – we are at war. It is a war that involves killing people and mind games. The enemy is trying to destabilize the world and seems, right now, to be succeeding. We happened to be in New York right after the Paris massacre and people are spooked, the new words on everyone’s lips being ‘soft target’. People ride the subway out of necessity but are wary of other passengers, cognizant of what could, G-d forbid, happen.
It is also very much a spiritual war – of Islam against the Judeo-Christian ethos.
Enter Israel and the West’s denial that they hold the key to defeating this enemy. Israel has lived on the edge going back thousands of years. Since 1948 they have gone from one war with their neighbours to the next and, each time, the format changes: skyjackings; suicide bombings in cafes, schools and restaurants; kidnappings; attack tunnels; and, today, random stabbings and shootings. The insane and illogical disdain for the Jewish people by Western democracies is their Achilles heel. They will never defeat the enemy without banding together and learning how the Jews have survived over the millennia.
Instead of having one keynote speaker at the Kinus banquet, they chose five generational speakers from different cities, all of whom are connected to Chabad: a young boy, a teen, a young adult, a middle-aged man and a Holocaust survivor.
While all delivered their speeches with warmth and sincerity, it was the Holocaust survivor who uttered the words that resonated most deeply: “We have five generations of Americans now,” he proudly said. “Our family has now grown larger than the family we lost in the war…”
We don’t lie down and die or cower in the face of those who want to annihilate us. We show the world that we are one united people. And that is what Western democracies don’t understand.
The Clock Has Run Out
The clock ran out Friday night November 13, 2015, in Paris. If the EU and North America do not band together – with Israel at the helm – city after city will share the same fate as Paris, victim of those who have zero regard for human life. When people march in the streets they should not be chanting “we are Paris” or “we are Charlie,” but screaming from the rooftops: “what is our government doing to end this war?” Only then will the politicians will sit up and take notice.
We do not have the luxury of time, yet are held hostage by leaders who just don’t get it. I hope and pray that we don’t have to witness a bloodbath on Canadian soil for people to wake up and realize that we are fighting an enemy that wants its own empire or caliphate right now.
The Jewish people have survived against seemingly impossible odds and Israel is at the heart of that survival. Moshy Holzberg is a living, breathing example of that, as is the Holocaust survivor and his family. When countries like Canada and the United States figure this out, we may have a chance. Until that time, start praying very hard.