Pictured above are, from left, Rabbi Gavriel Noach Holtzberg and his wife, Rivka, and Alan Scherr and his daughter, Naomi. The Holtzbergs were among five held hostage and killed in a standoff at the Mumbai headquarters of Chabad, a Hasidic Jewish movement. Rabbi Holtzberg was the movement's envoy in the city. The Scherrs were members of the Synchronicity Foundation, a Virginia meditation group. They were murdered as gunfire broke out while they were dining at the Oberoi, a Mumbai hotel.
As of this writing, at least 183 people have been killed in the terrorist attacks in Mumbai. To more fully appreciate the senselessness of such carnage, I focused on these 4 individuals. All of them were involved in peaceful pursuits that served their spiritual needs and those of their communities. Who could possibly want them to die and for what purpose?
But such considerations are beyond those who engage in terror. Their targets are not individuals but a faceless Other, whether defined as a hated nationality, religion or ethnic group. But Gavreil and Rivka mattered to their now-orphaned two-year-old son. Alan and Naomi mattered to wife and mother Kia Scherr.
And what about those who had nothing to do with the slaughter, but happen to share the terrorists' nationality, religion or ethnic group? After such terrible events, there are always revenge attacks against the innocent, who also become the hated Other.
There's also the danger of politicians using the events as rationales to declare war on unjustifiable pretexts, suspend civil liberties or engage in torture. These, however, are larger considerations. Right now I'm thinking about four individuals: Gavriel, Rivka, Alan and Naomi. And those who were close to them. We can multiply their tragedies among all of the victims. Who could possibly want them to die and to what purpose? I have no answers.