Will Worldwide Hasidic Chabad Lubavitch Jewish Outposts Survive in a Post-Mumbai Terrorism Age?

The Times has a follow-up article on the Chabad Mumbai tragedy.

My thought upon reading that Lubavitch has 4000 outposts worldwide - can the movement survive the additional risks and concomitant security costs that result from the Mumbai attack and tragedy?

No other Jewish sect or movement has done more to make Judaism's presence known (and Kosher food and minyanim available) in the four corners of our world.

I hope and trust that those who support Chabad will step up and contribute as much as it takes to help them continue their holy works around the globe.

[PS: Tzvee to Chabad: It's way past the time to choose a new rebbe. How about it?]
Chabad Movement Vows to Continue Work of Couple Killed in Attack

For many Jews, they are homes away from home: Chabad Houses, welcoming outposts in foreign lands or across the United States, places to drop in to celebrate Hanukkah, Passover or weekly Shabbat dinners.

Almost always, the Chabad Houses are run by young couples, emissaries of the Chabad-Lubavitch denomination, a Hasidic faith with its headquarters in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, whose adherents believe that secular Jews ought to become more observant.

Two of those emissaries were killed when their Chabad House was among the buildings attacked by terrorists in Mumbai last week. In their deaths, the couple, Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg, 29, and his wife Rivka, 28, drew a spotlight on the Chabad faith (the terms Chabad and Lubavitch are used interchangeably) — and to the emissaries’ growing presence around the world.

The number of Chabad Houses has mushroomed in the last decade, and now more than 4,000 husband-and-wife couples run them in 73 countries.

In 2003, the Holtzbergs, newly married, opened the first Chabad House in Mumbai.

Chabad leaders are quick to stress that the emissaries, called shluchim in Hebrew, are not missionaries. They do not try to convert non-Jews to Judaism. Instead, their mandate is to act as “lamplighters” by reaching out to secular Jews, often stopping people on city sidewalks and asking, “Are you Jewish?,” and trying to persuade them to deepen their faith.

The Chabad faith emerged 250 years in Russia ago as a branch of Hasidism. In 1951, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson became the spiritual leader, or rebbe, and under him, outreach bloomed.

“They pioneered Jewish outreach, and they developed techniques now used by other Jewish denominations,” said Sue Fishkoff, a journalist and author of the book “The Rebbe’s Army: Inside the World of Chabad-Lubavitch.”

The Holtzbergs moved to Mumbai in August 2003. Mr. Holtzberg, who was born in Israel and had moved to Brooklyn in his teens, had nursed a dream of becoming a shliach emissary. He spent time as a student in the Chabad House in Bangkok, and helped open a house in south Thailand, according to Rabbi Yosef Kantor, who oversees new branches in Southeast Asia.

The region sees great numbers of Israeli and Jewish travelers, and the Chabad movement wanted to expand its presence there. The Holtzbergs, it was decided, were perfect for the Mumbai job. As a student, Mr. Holtzberg was noted as a nimble thinker and, according to Rabbi Zalman Shmotkin, a spokesman for the Chabad movement in New York, for advancing Talmudic concepts. Mrs. Holtzberg seemed at once endlessly calm and energetic, said people who knew her.

Jewish groups are often wary when a Chabad House opens in a new city, but the Holtzbergs forged harmonious relationships in Mumbai, Ms. Fishkoff said. The couple’s home in the Colaba neighborhood, a popular destination for tourists, quickly became a favorite among Jewish backpackers, who were attracted to its welcoming air, Jewish art and the shelves lined with row after row of religious books.

“We talked and argued politics, discussed economics, shared our personal stories,” Olga Daniella Bakayeva, a recent guest, wrote in a post on Chabad.org after the Holtzbergs’ deaths were reported.

A week before the terrorists attacked, the 25th annual International Conference of the Chabad-Lubavitch Emissaries began in New York. Mr. Holtzberg chose not to attend: his eldest son, who was gravely ill with a congenital disease, was in an Israeli hospital, and Mr. Holtzberg wanted to stay close to home.

On Thursday morning, hours after the terrorist siege began, the Holtzbergs’ Indian nanny managed to escape with the couple’s other child, Moshe, who turned 2 on Saturday. It was not until Saturday night that terrible images from the Chabad House, known as Nariman House, began to trickle out: photos of a blood-soaked floor of a library strewn with red-stained pages of holy books.

Some of the dead, including Mrs. Holtzberg, were found wrapped in prayer shawls. Witnesses speculated that the rabbi had managed to cover the bodies before he was killed.

The Chabad community was seized with horror and shock. They had not been so maliciously singled out in at least 50 years, Mr. Shmotkin said.

“You think about those who were so selfless, they had no other life than spreading love and goodness,” Mr. Shmotkin said. “To have them cut down in this kind of way is really unfathomable.”

Yet within hours after the news broke about the Holtzbergs’ deaths, young Chabad couples from around the world stepped forward, offering to move to Mumbai and continue the movement’s work.

Chabad leaders said the Mumbai house would be certain to reopen.

Isabel Kershner contributed reporting from Jerusalem.

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