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Canadian PM mourns 26/11 Jewish victims

Ajit Jain in Toronto | March 31, 2009 02:34 IST

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Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper attended a reception organized by the Canadian Confederation of Chabad Luvabitch, an Orthodox Jewish organization, at Parliament Hill. He expressed his 'deepest sympathies to the Chabad Lubavitch family and all those who mourn the deaths of Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg,' who were killed by terrorists in the 26/11 terror attack on Mumbai [Images].

'Last November, the world watched in horror as a group of fanatics systematically murdered more than 170 people in the heart of Mumbai,' Harper said. 'Among those targeted were Rabbi Gavriel and Rebbetzin Rivka Holtzberg. By performing Mitzvahs and bringing more light into this world, the Holtzbergs were fulfilling the late Rabbi Schneerson's vision for strengthening Judaism.'

He added that the 'brutal, senseless murders' of the Rabbi and his wife 'were vile affronts to the values that unite all civilized peoples.'

In the House of Commons, a lawmaker from each political party "made a statement about Chabad Lubavitch and they spoke about the Rabbi and his wife killed in Mumbai," Rabbi Mendelsohn of Chabad of Centerpointe told India Abroad. Rabbi Mendelsohn served as emcee at the reception.

The reception was part of a conference of Canadian Chabad rabbis. "As part of the conference, we incorporated the reception in which Prime Minister Harper and other political leaders were invited not only to memorialize the Mumbai victims, but also to pay tribute to the good work that Chabad is doing across Canada [Images], in India, and elsewhere," Rabbi Mendelsohn said.

"It is difficult to live a Jewish religious life in Mumbai," Rabbi Mendelsohn noted.  "But our Rabbi and his wife went there to be able to help others and we would honour their memories and continue their work."

He added that the brutal events at the Mumbai Chabad House were "a direct blow to the Chabad movement. The movement then made a pact after hearing the sad news, that we would take action, but our action would be acts of goodness and kindness. We would continue and strengthen the good work that we are doing."

Speakers at the parliamentary reception also included Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky, who said that although the murder of their Rabbi and his wife was a very painful experience, the community remains resolved to continue its good work in Mumbai.

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