Friday’s vigil, held in memory of Jews who lost their lives in the recent terrorist attacks on a Chabad house in Mumbai, featured clips about the victims, a candle-lighting ceremony and a prayer conducted in both Hebrew and English.
The event, held in Winship Ballroom, was co-sponsored by Chabad at Emory and Hillel and began with opening statements by Rabbi Zalman Lipskier, director of Chabad at Emory.
During the Mumbai terrorist attacks last week, six hostages were killed at the Chabad-Lubavitch Jewish center, including a rabbi from Brooklyn and his wife, who operated the center. The hostages at the Jewish center were held from Wednesday until Friday, when Indian commandos stormed the center.
Speaking about Rabbi Gavriel Holtzeberg and Rivka Holtzeberg, two victims he personally knew, Lipskier stressed the importance of community, faith and union.
“This memorial is exclusive to everyone who has been affected by these attacks,” Lipskier said.
Following clips about the Holtzebergs, the students gathered in silence to light candles and join in prayer and song.
After prayer, Jewish Studies Professor Deborah Lipstadt addressed the crowd. Teary-eyed, she began by discussing the brutal killings.
“There is no explanation. There is no simple answer,” Lipstadt said.
Lipstadt told the students to stay positive.
“Even in times of such darkness, we have to bring happiness and light into the world,” Lipstadt said.
The ceremony ended with closing statements from Hillel Director Michael Rabkin.
Rabkin expressed condolences not only to the families of the victims but also to all the families affected by this tragedy.
“Nothing can mitigate the horror of this savage terrorist attack, which has claimed the lives of over 100 innocent people across Mumbai. Hillel stands in solidarity with the people of India as they heal their wounds and comfort those in grief,” Rabkin said.
College sophomore Sam Roth, who attended the event along with 20 other students, said he was deeply affected by the attacks.
“It is a travesty that in a country where there are so few Jews, a country that is known for being peaceful towards all religions, that Jews would be attacked for their religion,” Roth said.
Roth, who has visited Mumbai and many Jewish sites around India, said the attacks were more personal for him.
“We were told it was a peaceful spot for Jews. Many Israelis go to visit,” Roth said.
College junior Steve Golden also said the attacks deeply affected him.
“It really hit home. My freshman and sophomore year I went to the Chabad house at Emory. So it was a very difficult thing to hear that one of the targets in Mumbai was a sanctuary for my people,” Golden said.
Although the attacks were devastating, Golden said he is trying to look at things with a clear perspective.
“I am just trying to take two steps back and look at this with an objective eye. Too many people try to place blame before hearing everything,” Golden said.
College freshman Katie Levy said that she felt the attacks were tragic for people all around the world.
“It is tragic for everyone, not just Jews,” Levy said.
College sophomore Megan Silverman said the different services sponsored by Chabad at Emory around campus have helped her cope.
“It helps knowing that here it is OK to be Jewish. Emory is a safe place for Jews,” Silverman said.
— Contact Dua Hassan.