Israel buries victims of India attack

JERUSALEM (AP) -- Throngs of mourners on Tuesday packed the funerals of the six Jews killed in the 60-hour terror rampage in the Indian city of Mumbai, a grim occasion deepened by the conviction that the victims were targeted because of their religion.

The six died when gunmen struck the Chabad House, the Mumbai headquarters of the ultra-Orthodox Lubavitch movement, on Wednesday night. After a two-day standoff, three Israelis, a rabbi with joint American-Israeli citizenship an American Jew and a Mexican Jewish woman were dead. The woman had planned to immigrate to Israel this week.

Several thousand ultra-Orthodox mourners turned out, most of them bearded men with sidecurls garbed in long black coats and black hats. They packed the main square, rooftops and narrow alleys of Mea Shearim, a large religious neighborhood in Jerusalem, for the funeral of 38-year-old Leibish Teitelbaum.

Teitelbaum, a U.S. citizen who lived in Jerusalem, was in Mumbai last week supervising the preparation of kosher food.

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.

"It's a very difficult feeling because we know this was targeted against us," said Eliahu Tzadok, 41, of Jerusalem. "It's a continuation of acts against the Jewish people when the Jewish people did nothing to deserve it."

The other victims included the 29-year-old rabbi who ran the Chabad House, Gavriel Holtzberg, and his 28-year-old wife, Rivkah.

Their memorial ceremony took place at Kfar Chabad, the movement's center in Israel.

Thousands of people crowded outside the group's red-brick headquarters, including President Shimon Peres, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu.

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. Chabad operates dozens of outreach centers to help Jewish travelers throughout the world.

"We will answer the terrorists. We will not fight them with AK47s. We will not fight them with grenades. We will not fight them with tanks," he said, switching between Hebrew and English as his voice shook in anguish.

"We will fight them with torches," referring to following God's word.

He pledged to rebuild the Mumbai center and name it after the Holtzbergs.

The couple's 2-year-old son, Moshe, who was rescued by his Indian caretaker, returned with her and the bodies of his parents on Monday.

In an emotional scene before their flight Monday, the boy repeatedly cried for his mother at a tearful memorial for his parents at a Mumbai synagogue. His heart-rending cries were played over and over again on Israeli TV stations ahead of the funerals.

"You don't have a mother who will hug you and kiss you," Rabbi Kotlarsky said, adding that the community would take care of the boy. "You are the child of all of Israel."

The only other surviving member of the family, Moshe's brother, has Tay-Sachs, a terminal genetic disease, and is institutionalized in Israel. The Holtzbergs' eldest son died of the disease.

The couple had lived in Israel and Brooklyn before they moved to Mumbai in 2003. Rabbi Holtzberg was a dual citizen of the U.S. and Israel.

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.

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."

But the minister in charge of state ceremonies, Jacob Edery, told the radio station that no formal request from the family had been received.

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