Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, March 16, 2007
Photo submitted by Jack and Sue Spence
By Betsy Thorpe
Last week in Mumbai, more than one hundred and seventy people fell victim to one of the worst terrorist attacks in recent history. Mumbai formerly known as Bombay, is located on the west coast of India and is one of the largest cities in the world. Halfway around the globe in Nashville various individuals and communities were touched and affected by the cities tragic events.
On March 16 2008 Mr. and Mrs. J.R. Spence of Bellevue, traveling aboard the Holland American Ship, “The Amsterdam” disembarked at the Dock of Mumbai. While touring the city they visited the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, a welcoming location that offers use of it’s facilities to the large number of international tourists who visit the city everyday. Following the recent tragedy in Mumbai, Mrs. Spence said “I understand why the hotel was targeted by the terrorists it is so big with thousands of people in it at all times”. She also said the attack was “really frightening and very sad.”
In November of 2008 a group of twenty five Americans and Canadians affiliated with the Synchronicity Foundation based in West Virginia set out on a spiritual pilgrimage to Mumbai. The Foundation was established in 1982 by Master Charles Cannon to encourage “balanced living in an unbalanced world, as we witness unprecedented levels of global conflict.” During the siege of Mumbai Master Cannon and several of his pupils were held hostage in their rooms at the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel. They were later released unharmed. Two members of the group, artist and children’s book author Linda Ragsdale and yoga instructor Rudrani Devo, both from Nashville were seriously wounded in the attack while dining in the hotel. They are currently hospitalized in India and are responding well to treatment. They hope to return home next week.
Nashville’s large Hindustani community has strong ties to the city of Mumbai,and they were deeply saddened by the terrorist attack that took place in their homeland. Dr.Darshan Mahajan, Chairman Of The Board Of Trustees at the Sri Ganesha Temple in Bellevue stated “this tragedy touches not only the family of Mumbai and India, but the family of the world.” On Sunday November 30th, more than four hundred members of the temple congregation offered special prayers for the victims of the attack and their families. The prayers were followed by a minute of silence.
In a city populated by nineteen million residents, one small house was specifically targeted by the terrorists, The Chabad-Lubavitch House of Mumbai. The house operated by Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his wife Rivkah offered sanctuary to young Israeli’s backpacking across India and provided Kosher meals to tourists and businessmen and women from around the world.
On December 1st a Memorial Service For The Victims Of Terror took place at the Gordon Jewish Community Center in Belle Meade. Approximately one hundred and fifty members of Nashville’s Jewish community attended the service. Words of remembrance, prayers for peace and healing, a prayer for victims of terror,a recitation of Psalms, A song of Hope and Faith, and a memorial prayer were offered by Rabbi’s from Nashville’s five Jewish congregations. Steve Edelstein, Executive Director of the Jewish Federation offered words of strength.
Rabbis from Nashville’s five Jewish congregations
Photo submitted by Rick Malkin
Before the service Rabbi Saul Strosburg of Congregation Sherith Israel said “As Jews and as Americans we are saddened and horrified by the events in Mumbai. It’s not a new thing for Jews to be brutally murdered, but it’s incredibly painful, nonetheless. The Jewish people are but one large family, and this past week, we lost some loved ones.”
The memorial service closed with a request from Rabbi Yitzchok Tiechtel. He asked that a mitzvah, (a good deed) be pledged in the memory of the murdered and martyred victims of the terrorist attack in Mumbai. A wise and fitting tribute to the one hundred and seventy innocent lives suddenly taken away in a violent burst of prejudice and hate.
UPDATE ON THIS STORY December 2nd
It now known that Rivkah Holzberbg, wife of Rabbi Gavriel Holzberg, was six months pregnant when she was assassinated in Mumbai.
UPDATE ON THIS STORY December 7th
Mumbai shooting victime Rudrani Devo is expected to return home to Nashville today.