Yesterday night, Rabbi Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg were buried together on the Mt. Of Olives in Jerusalem, in a plot overlooking the Kodesh Kedoshim. I’ve tried to write this post so many times and frankly, I can’t. I’m out of juice. So I’ll just reproduce what my friend Shaanan Meyerstein wrote. I took some pics. The one on the left is of the plot and on the right is a man reading Tehilim and waiting for the bodies to arrive. That will have to do for my contribution. Shaanan is from Baltimore and is a Med Student at Ben Gurion University:
Since most of you are back in the US and I know that if you were in Israel you would have attended, I wanted to share with you a little bit about the funerals yesterday, a day that I will always remember:
The day began at the central bus station in Jerusalem. I was looking for the bus to Kfar Chabad and I saw a guy who looked like a Chabadnik and asked him – it turns out he was heading to the funeral as well. As we sat together on the bus, I soon found out that he had been Rabbi Gabi’s chavruta for several years, most recently in Thailand. Along the way he shared his personal stories and fond memories.
Upon arrival at the “770” house, the crowds began to swell. There were many very emotional eulogies from Chabad rabbis, family members, friends and government officials. By 4pm, The procession began to Rabbi Gabi’s Chabad yeshiva in Jerusalem. Thousands upon thousands of people flooded into the streets and followed behind the bodies as the procession made its way to the Mt. of Olives at nightfall. The crowd sang a few special nigguns around the graves. Around 8pm the final burial was complete and the crowd dispersed with the exception of Rivki and Gabi’s mothers, sisters and female friends who were still graveside crying.
I had the opportunity to place a rock on the grave, say a personal prayer, and then expressed my condolences on behalf of all of the American Jewish students who had volunteered in India and spent a lot of time with Rivka and Gabi. Mrs. Holzberg and Mrs. Rosenberg were appreciative.
The overall feeling I had at the end of the day was the comfort in seeing that finally, after the brutality of the attacks in chabad Mumbai, the chaos surrounding the retrieval of the bodies, the delay in burial, the media frenzy, that finally, Gabi and Rivki are resting in peace. Gabi is resting next to his beloved eshet chayil with the backdrop of the holy city of Jerusalem. I can not describe the serenity of that place.
Hamakom Yinachem Etchem Btoch Shaar Zion V’avly Yerushalayim.
Thanks for sharing Shaanan.