The Jewish mother murdered in the brutal Mumbai terror attacks last week was six month pregnant, her father revealed today at her funeral.
And Rivkah Holtzberg’s two-year-old son, Moshe, may have been beaten by the militants, reports have claimed.
His back was covered in bruises consistent with abuse, the chairman of Zaka, Israel’s ultraorthodox recovery service, told Sky News.
Ultra-Orthodox Jewish men attend the funeral procession of Rabbi Gavriel Noach Holtzberg, 29, and his wife Rivkah, 28, killed in the Mumbai Jewish center attack.
Moshe Holtzberg, the couple’s two-year-old son, cried repeatedly for his mother during a memorial service in Mumbai yesterday.
Moshe’s grandfather revealed that his daughter Rivkah had been six months pregnant as he gave a eulogy at her funeral. Rivka and her husband Gabi were buried in Israel along with four other victims of the attacks.
Throngs of mourners today packed the funerals of the six victims, turning the narrow alleys of one Jerusalem neighborhood into a sea of black coats and hats.
A huge crowd gathered outside the red-brick Israeli headquarters of the Chabad movement, whose emissary to Mumbai, Rabbi Gavriel Noach Holtzberg, 29, was murdered along with his 28-year-old wife, Rivkah.
Those in attendance included President Shimon Peres and a slew of other dignitaries.
Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky, a Chabad official from New York, delivered an impassioned eulogy, describing the young couple as dedicated people who would stop at nothing to help a fellow Jew.
Israelis have begun burying the six Jews killed in the Mumbai murder spree, including American Leibish Teitelbaum, 38, whose body above was buried.
The religious Mea Shearim neighbourhood of Jerusalem was the scene of wailing and chanting as thousands of people bid a final farewell today to the six Jews killed in last week’s bloody Mumbai attacks.
‘We will answer the terrorists,’ he vowed, his voice shaking. ‘We will not fight them with AK47s. We will not fight them with grenades. We will not fight them with tanks.
‘We will fight them with torches!’ he cried, referring to God’s teachings.
He pledged to rebuild the Mumbai centre and name it after the Holtzbergs. Chabad operates thousands of such outreach centers around the world.
Addressing the crowd, Peres called on the world to unite in the fight against terrorism. He singled out Iran, which supports anti-Israel militant groups and whose president has called for Israel’s destruction.
‘If the entire world doesn’t join together as one man and say ‘enough!,’ then the world is in danger. This is a plague that is difficult to stop,’ he said.
Grief: Ultra-Orthodox mourners sit behind the bodies of Rabbi Gavriel Noach Holtzberg, 29, right, and his wife Rivkah, 28, left, killed in the Mumbai Jewish centre attack, during their funeral procession in Israel today.
Religious Jewish women grieve during the funeral service Holtzberg’s funeral service.
The Holtzbergs’ bodies – hers wrapped in a shroud, his in a prayer shawl – rested on chairs on the dais where the eulogies and prayers were delivered.
There are already fears that Moshe witnessed his parents’ murder after he was found by his nanny crying next to their bodies, covered in blood.
She dashed him to safety before commandos launched an attack on the Jewish house in which the terrorists were holding the family hostage last week.
In an emotional scene before the flight to Israel yesterday, Moshe repeatedly cried for his mother at a tearful memorial ceremony at a Mumbai synagogue. The scene was broadcast repeatedly on Israeli TV stations.
‘You don’t have a mother who will hug you and kiss you,’ Rabbi Kotlarsky cried out during a eulogy that switched back and forth between Hebrew and English. But the community will take care of the boy, he vowed: ‘You are the child of all of Israel.’
The area became a sea of black hats and coats as ultra-Orthodox men followed the service.
Mourners pray over the bodies of the Holtzbergs.
Moshe has not slept in four days, the rabbi who found his father’s body told The Times. Now, the nanny – Sandra Samuel – is the only person that Moshe responds to. his family told Sky News.
Yesterday she and Moshe flew to Israel on the same plane that was carrying his parents’ bodies. His family have asked her to stay and live in Israel as they struggle to come to terms with the trauma of the attack.
In addition to Peres, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu and Israel’s two chief rabbis were among the thousands who attended the nationally televised ceremony.
Most of the people who came were bearded men in the black suits and black fedoras of Chabad members. Women gathered behind a yellow metal partition, in accordance with the Jewish custom of separating the sexes during prayer.
The Holtzbergs on their wedding day in 2002. They were expecting their second child, Mrs Holtzberg’s father said today.
The grimness of the funerals was deepened by the conviction that the victims were struck because of their religion.
‘It’s a very difficult feeling because we know this was targeted against us,’ said Eliahu Tzadok, 41, who attended the funeral of another victim, 38-year-old Leibish Teitelbaum, in Jerusalem.
‘It’s a continuation of acts against the Jewish people when the Jewish people did nothing to deserve it.’
Teitelbaum, a U.S. citizen who lived in Jerusalem, was in Mumbai last week supervising the preparation of kosher food.
Several thousand ultra-Orthodox mourners, most of them bearded men with sidecurls garbed in long black coats and black hats, packed the main square, narrow alleys and rooftops of Mea Shearim, a large religious neighborhood in Jerusalem, for his funeral.
The bloody scene inside the Mumbai house after the failed rescue attempt by commandos last week.
Moshe Holtzberg is held by his nanny Sandra Samuel as she and his grand parents, Yehodit and Shimon Rosenberg, arrive at Mumbai airport on their way to Israel.
Death notices plastered the neighborhood’s billboards and walls, reading ‘May God avenge them.’ Loudspeakers blazed with the sounds of weeping, wailing mourners reciting prayers from the Book of Psalms.
Teitelbaum belonged to a prominent family in the small, ultra-Orthodox Satmar sect, which is ideologically opposed to the state of Israel.
His family informed the Israeli government that they wanted no state involvement or symbols at his funeral, an official in the government ministry in charge of state ceremonies said Monday.
But when Teitelbaum’s casket was taken off the plane from Mumbai, it was draped with an Israeli flag.
Shmuel Poppenheim, who studied with Teitelbaum in his youth, told Israel Radio that ‘disturbed his family very much.’ There were no Israeli flags or government representatives at the funeral.
A fourth victim, 50-year-old Norma Shvarzblat Rabinovich of Mexico, had planned to immigrate to Israel to join two of her children who had already moved here.
She had spent the past few months touring India, and had planned to fly from Mumbai to Israel on Monday – the 18th birthday of her son, Manuel – before she was killed, according to the Israeli Foreign Ministry Web site.
The two other victims were Yocheved Orpaz, 60, who had been traveling in India with a daughter and grandchildren, and Bentzion Chroman, 28, who like Teitelbaum, was a supervisor of kosher food.