Indian Doctor Moves to Israel to honor Murdered Chabad Emissaries

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This week marks a year since the inhuman murder of Rivki and Gabi Holtzberg in Mumbai, India. Over the past year, many stories have been published about the Holtzberg’s tremendous legacy, and the great impact that they had on the thousands of Jews who passed through their Chabad House.

But one of the most awe-inspiring stories about the Holtzbergs to be published so far was, surprisingly, not about the life-altering impact that they had on an American Jewish traveler or on an Israeli backpacker through the Far East, but rather on a Hindu, Indian doctor named Dr. Hagirat Prasad.

Up until a year ago, Dr. Prasad was the director of Emergency Medicine at Mumbai’s prestigious British Kennedy Hospital. Married with three children, he lived a life of material abundance, but the Hindu pantheon of gods left Prasad feeling a great spiritual void and thirsting for something more.
Twenty years ago, Prasad got his first taste of that “something more” when he read the Bible for the first time, and it moved him deeply. From that time on, he thirsted to learn about Judaism and to learn about the one true G-d.

After the Holtzberg family took over the Mumbai Chabad House in 2002, Dr. Prasad began arriving at the Chabad House nearly every day to study Torah with Rabbi Gabi Holtzberg.”  Over the years, Prasad adopted a fully Jewish way of life and changed his name to “Aaron Avraham.” He considered the Chabad House like a second home, and the Holtzbergs like a second family.

“I loved Rabbi Gabi and Rebbetzin Rivka with all my heart. I miss them so much,” he recalled during an interview with Yediot Achronot this week.

The day of the terror attack, Dr. Prasad was 500 miles away from Mumbai.
When he heard about the terror attacks, he prayed along with tens of thousands of people all over the world that the Holtzbergs and the other Chabad House captives would be safe. When Dr. Prasad heard that his beloved rabbi and rebbetzin had been murdered, he was devastated.

In the weeks that followed, Dr. Prasad decided that he must react to such a tremendous act of darkness and evil with an equally great act of light and goodness.

Five months ago, Dr. Prasad left behind his prestigious job and life of material comfort and immigrated with his family to Israel, where his family resides in a tiny apartment in the Hebron settlement of Kiryat Arba. Despite the life of material simplicity that he has had to adopt in the Jewish homeland, Prasad explains that today he is “the happiest person alive.”

“Every day my heart races with excitement that I am living next to Hebron, the 2nd holiest city to the Jewish people,” he explains.

This Thursday will be one of the happiest days of Prasad’s life, when, exactly a year following the Holtzberg murder, Dr. Prasad will remarry his wife, Rut Malka, this time in accordance with Jewish law at the Cave of Machpela in Hebron. In attendance will be their three children, who also completed the conversion process with their parents, Shmuel (18), Sara (15), and Sharon (10).

Dr. Prasad is in the process of converting his medical license, and hopes to start working at the clinic in Kiryat Arba as well as at Shaarei Tsedek Hospital in Jerusalem over the coming year.

What a tremendous living memorial the Prasad family is to the contribution, self-sacrifice, and impact of this incredible couple- Rabbi Gabi and Rivki Holtzberg. Y’hee Zichram Baruch.

(Source of Information: “Jewish Soul” by Tzvi Zinger and Lior El-Chai, Yediot Achronot, November 16, 2009)

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