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"He had been crying. He is too small, you see, and all this must be affecting him so much."

New York Daily News, November 29:

By Barry Keevins in Mumbai and Christina Boyle, Simone Weichselbaum and Oren Yaniv in New York (New York Daily News)  


Rabbi Gabriel Holtzberg and his wife Rivka.

The bodies of the Brooklyn-raised rabbi and his wife who were murdered in Mumbai's terrorist massacre were found wrapped in prayer shawls after the hostage crisis ended, relatives said Saturday.

The rabbi wrapped the slain hostages with the shawls in the Chabad-Lubavitch Jewish center before being shot himself, his cousin told the Daily News.

The bodies of the couple, Gavriel Holtzberg, 29, and Rivkah, 28, were expected to be flown to the Holy Land for burial this week.

The bodies are being held in a Jewish facility by Chabad officials. Indian officials had insisted on performing autopsies on the bodies, which are prohibited by Jewish law, said a spokesman at the Chabad headquarters in Brooklyn.

As loved ones made funeral arrangements in India, the couple's orphaned son, Moshe, celebrated his second birthday yesterday in the care of his maternal grandparents.

"The boy's security is of utmost concern to us," said Jonathan Solomon, a prominent Jewish community leader.

"He had been crying. He is too small, you see, and all this must be affecting him so much."

Family members said the tot survived only because the nanny who rescued him showed up to work on her regular day off.

"It's a total miracle. She never works on Wednesday," said the rabbi's cousin Chesky Holtzberg, 33. "It's divine providence. Moshe is still alive due to her good deeds and good thinking."

The boy's parents were remembered yesterday for their courage in creating a place for Jewish business travelers and backpackers in India, a country that was not their home.

Shmulik Rosenberg, Rivkah Holtzberg's brother, said they were sent on a mission to provide Jewish travelers "with a kosher place to eat, a warm place to visit, put on phylacteries, hear a sermon or receive a blessing from a rabbi."

Holtzberg, who was raised in Crown Heights, was found dead with his wife and seven others in the Chabad-Lubavitch Jewish center Friday, three days after terrorists stormed the building during a series of coordinated citywide attacks that left at least 195 dead in Mumbai.

Indian commandos finally ended the siege by storming the center Friday.

The body of another former New Yorker, Rabbi Leibish Teitelbaum of Jerusalem, was also found in the building, along with that of Bentzion Chroman, an Israeli with dual U.S. citizenship.

Two other Americans, Alan Scherr, 58, and his daughter Naomi, 13, from Virginia, were also killed by terrorists who stormed a popular Mumbai tourist café.