U.S. Casualty Reports Emerge in Mumbai

Bush, Obama decry violence that has killed at least 150, including 5 Americans.

ByABC News
November 28, 2008, 10:05 AM

Nov. 28, 2008 — -- At least five Americans -- including a father, his 13-year-old daughter, and a New York rabbi and his wife -- were killed in the chaos of ongoing terrorist attacks in Mumbai, and at least three other U.S. citizens were injured, ABC News has learned.

At least 150 people have been killed since Islamic militants first attacked 10 sites across Mumbai Wednesday. More than 48 hours after the crisis began, Indian forces remain in a standoff with terrorists outside the historic Taj Mahal hotel.

Indian commandos staged a pair of daring raids Friday, storming an ultra-Orthodox Jewish center to take back hostages from the militants. After police wiped out the terrorists, and the unit pulled back and returned to the barracks, they were applauded in the streets.

Inside the center, bodies of the dead were found. Gavriel Holtzberg, a 29-year-old rabbi from Brooklyn, N.Y., and his wife, Rivka, were killed at the Chabad House, an outreach center for the Lubavitch Jewish sect, the religious group confirmed. Rivka Holtzberg was born in Israel and it wasn't clear whether she also had U.S. citizenship.

Also among the dead was Rabbi Leibish Teitlebaum, a kosher food supervisor who had moved to Jersusalem from Brooklyn, N.Y. several years ago and Bentzion Chroman, an Israeli with dual U.S. citizenship, the Associated Press reports.

Rabbi Yehuda Krinsky, the chairman of the education and social service branch of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement, called the attacks "senseless" and "barbaric."

"In 2003 shortly after their marriage, the young couple cheerfully gave up the comforts of home and took up residence on the other end of the world to help others in need," said Krinsky, breaking into tears.

"Words are inadequate to express our outrage and deep pain that the tragic act of cold-blooded murder has fueled," he said.

Krinksy said that the couple's young son, Moshe, will celebrate his second birthday day Saturday.

Sandra Samuel, 44, a cook who worked in Chabad House, escaped and pulled the Moshe out of the building. The boy was unharmed but his clothes were soaked with blood, news services reported.

"Today, he became an orphan," said Krinsky. "Emissaries will adopt this beautiful young toddler and ensure him the best possible upbringing into adulthood."

Holtzberg was described by other members of the organization as being "overwhelmed with joy and determination" during his time in India. One man said that it was unusual to see him without a smile.

The bodies of Alan Scherr, 58, and his daughter, Naomi, 13, both members of the Synchronicity Foundation, have been identified, according to Bobbie Garvey, the group's vice president.

"Sadness, loss, grief," said Garvey. "Alan and Naomi were extreme valued members of the community."

Aaron Butler, Naomi's brother and Scherr's stepson, wrote in an e-mail to ABCNews.com that the trip to Mumbai was his sister's first time out of the country.

"We are in an extreme state of shock and grief," wrote Butler.

Butler clarified that Scherr and Naomi were not in Mumbai as part of a religious group but instead were there on a meditational retreat and as "an opportunity for Naomi to see another country, since she had never traveled abroad."

Scherr and Naomi were traveling in a group of 25 people from the Synchronicity Foundation. A spokesperson for the organization said that of those traveling in Mumbai, four were injured but recovering and the remaining 19 were safe.

The group, which is based near Nellysford, Va., was founded by Charles Cannon in 1983 to advocate meditation principles and was holding seminars in Mumbai.

In a statement on the organization's Web site, Scherr is described as a community member who committed most of his adult life "to meditation, spirituality and conscious living."

"[Scherr] was a passionate Vedic astrologer and meditation teacher who inspired many people to begin a journey of self-awareness and meditation," according to the statement. "He was committed to making a positive difference in the world and devoted himself to the community he lived in."

Naomi was described as a "bright and lively young woman who loved spending time with people and living life to the fullest.

"She was passionate, if not a little mischievous, and will be fondly remembered by many of us for colorful hair styles and radiant energy."