Chabad UM reacts to Mumbai tragedy

It is Friday afternoon. Shabbat will begin in three hours, yet I sit as if time stands still. I have yet to come to terms with the events of the past few days.

A young couple and colleagues of mine, Rabbi Gabi and Rivka Holtzberg dedicated their lives – by moving away from the comforts of home and family – to establish a Chabad center much like the Chabad here at the University of Miami to serve the needs of the Jewish community and visitors in Mumbai, India – people whom they had never met before and perhaps would never meet again. They opened their homes and hearts, becoming the pillar of strength for the Jewish community. And then in a horrific act of terrorism, their short lives were brutally robbed from them.

We do not live in a world separated by borders. The events may have taken place in India but its effects reverberate around the world, even in our very lives here at the University of Miami. Not for one moment can we fool ourselves and believe this is a problem of some place halfway around the world. If it occurred, it has occurred here too. If there is tragedy, there is tragedy here too. When there is pain, there is pain here too.

To be sure, there are more questions than answers, but that neither leaves us here nor there. By the time you read this article, the tragic events will already be a few days old; our initial reactions of disbelief, shock and tremendous hurt will by then begin to subside.

For this very reason I am sitting here, forcing my fingers to type that which my mind refuses to accept. In times like these we don’t have the luxury to hold meetings and create commissions to investigate what steps to take. We must act immediately to combat the forces of evil and senseless acts of terror and hate by increasing acts of goodness, kindness and mitzvoth. We must look deep into our own souls and ask ourselves – rather tell ourselves – we can be kinder, gentler and more spiritual people.

If there is goodness here, there is goodness there too. If there is kindness here, there is kindness there too, and if we beat the forces of evil here, we have defeated them there too.

We can do it, must do it, will do it. The balance of the world lies in your hands.