Rabbi Gabriel Holtzberg and his wife Rivka were killed by gunmen in a Jewish center in Mumbai after being held hostage.
Israelis sadly familiar with the threat of attack came to grips with new vulnerability on Saturday as at least seven Israeli families prepared to bury loved ones, including a New York rabbi and his wife, slain at a Jewish center tucked quietly at the end of an alley in faraway India.
Israel's Foreign Ministry said nine people -- most Israelis, some dual citizens but all of them Jews -- were killed in an attack on the Chabad House in Mumbai this week, part of a spectacular assault on symbols of luxury and foreign appeal across the city. Indian commandos stormed the building Friday, but none of the hostages was found alive.
The rabbi and his wife ran the five-story center with a love of God and a loving hand, a relative said. Others were visitors drawn -- like many Jews and Israelis who travel abroad -- by the hope of finding a touch of home.
Israel's defense minister, Ehud Barak, wondered publicly whether Indian security forces performed as competently as Israel, with its vaunted military, might have hoped.
Rabbi Gavriel Noach Holtzberg, 29, a dual U.S.-Israeli citizen, and his 28-year-old Israeli wife, Rivkah, were members of the New York-based Chabad-Lubavitch ultra-orthodox sect. They were sent on a mission to provide Jewish businesspeople and backpackers "with a kosher place to eat, a warm place to visit, put on phylacteries, hear a sermon, or receive a blessing from a rabbi," said Rivkah Holtzberg's brother, Shmulik Rosenberg.
Israelis living in the sprawling city were like family at the center, where Rivkah would cook for dozens of visitors, he said.
"She went with courage to this mission in India," he added, describing her as a strong, industrious and intelligent woman with a nuanced mind. "She had no fear," and neither did her husband, he added.
The Hasidic sect has thousands of outreach envoys on similar missions all over the world.
The Holtzbergs will be flown to Israel for burial, Rosenberg said. A Chabad spokesman said they likely would be buried Monday.
The couple's toddler son Moshe, who celebrated his second birthday Saturday, was spirited out of the five-story building by a center employee, unharmed but his pants soaked with blood. Another son, who was ailing, was in Israel at the time.
By late Saturday, three other victims at the Chabad House besides the Holtzbergs had been positively identified: Bentzion Chroman, a dual U.S.-Israeli citizen, Rabbi Leibish Teitelbaum, a U.S. citizen who lived in Jerusalem, and an Israeli tourist, Yocheved Orpaz.
Israeli media reported that the victims were found wrapped in prayer shawls, in accordance with Jewish burial tradition. The reports speculated that one of the hostages wrapped the bodies before he was killed.
At the Chabad sect's center in Israel, Kfar Chabad, Sabbath began before the hostages were confirmed dead. Orthodox Jews are forbidden to use phones or other electric devices until the Sabbath ends at sundown Saturday. On Friday night, worshippers recited the Book of Psalms, prayers Jews sometimes recite in the hope of averting tragedy.
But when the Sabbath ended, their worst fears were confirmed.
"Chabad is one big family. We all know everyone, so it is a terrible, intimate and profound loss," group spokesman Moni Ender said.
A little-known Muslim group with a name suggesting origins inside India claimed responsibility for the attacks. But Indian officials blamed neighboring Pakistan.
Dozens of Palestinian attacks inside Israel and assaults on Jewish sites across the globe, like the deadly bombing of a Jewish center in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1994, have given Jews and Israelis a unique perspective of being an ongoing target for attacks of this kind.
Israeli officials said the assault on the Chabad House was no coincidence.
"The fact that the attack took place at the Chabad House is the clearest sign that the attack was directed against Jews and Israelis," Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said Friday.
Gunmen entered the building Wednesday night, but not until early Friday did a commando unit storm it.
Barak acknowledged the complexity of ending multiple, simultaneous attacks but said Indian forces were not on a par with elite Israeli units.
"I'm not sure it had to last three days, but that's what happened," he said Friday night.
India has become a favorite destination for Israelis, and thousands of backpackers head there each year in what has practically become a coming-of-age ritual after military service.