As the month of Kislev is upon us, I can’t help but think about the horrific atrocities that took place in Mumbai and realize that a year has already passed. The kedoshim that were murdered in the Chabad House, solely because they were Jewish, had very close ties with the world of kashrus. Rabbi Leibish Teitelbaum (Hy”d) and Rabbi Benzion Kruman (Hy”d) were travelling mashgichim who were in India to inspect food production facilities and Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg (Hy”d), the Chabad shliach in Mumbai, was an OK Kosher representative who made full-time, regular inspections on behalf of the OK. Rabbi Holtzberg monitored many facilities to ensure that the kashrus was maintained at the highest kosher level possible.
It seems like just yesterday that one of the secretaries in the OK New York office mentioned that she spoke to Rabbi Holtzberg earlier … and he just doesn’t answer his phone anymore… This was on Wednesday and on that very Motzei Shabbos, just three days later, a New York rabbi from our main office was scheduled to fly to Mumbai to meet with Rabbi Holtzberg. Over the next day or two, much to our chagrin, we all learned of the terrible situation that these holy and innocent people were in. (The OK has since set up a new office in Mumbai with a steady flow of rabbis coming in from Israel.)
Those of us who work in the kashrus arena know that without the Chabad shluchim throughout the world, kashrus would not be where it is today. All of the different kashrus agencies rely on these dedicated rabbis to monitor food factories in the most distant and remote locations, and all of us, the kashrus agencies and the kosher consumers as a whole, owe a great debt of gratitude to them.
At this time of the year, when we spread light into the darkness by lighting the Chanukah candles, let’s remember these eternal flames. May Hashem spread His light upon us all and dispel the darkness forever with the coming of Moshiach.
Hum chaehay Moshiach abee! (“We want Moshiach now!” in Urdu, one of the languages of India.)
Rabbi Chaim Fogelman