U.S. man, daughter among Mumbai victims

November 28, 2008 12:23:27 PM PST
A father and his teenage daughter from a Virginia community that promotes a form of meditation were among those killed in the terrorist attacks in India, a colleague said Friday.

Alan Scherr, 58, and daughter Naomi, 13, were in a cafe Wednesday night in Mumbai when they were killed, said Bobbie Garvey, a spokeswoman for the Synchronicity Foundation. The U.S. State Department confirmed their deaths on Friday morning.

The Scherrs were among 25 foundation participants in a spiritual program in Mumbai. Four others on the mission were injured in the cafe attack in the luxury Oberoi hotel, Garvey said, including two women from Tennessee.

Members of the New York-based Chabad-Lubavitch ultra-Orthodox Jewish movement were anxiously awaiting the names of victims at its local headquarters in Mumbai, which was one of 10 sites attacked.

Among the three people rescued from the center Thursday morning was a toddler identified as the 18-month-old son of the couple running the center, Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his wife, Rivka.

The whereabouts of the couple, who moved to India from Brooklyn, are still unknown. The bodies of five hostages were found by Indian commandoes early Friday night.

The Virginia father was a Maryland native and a former college professor who lived at the Synchronicity sanctuary about 15 miles southwest of Charlottesville.

"I would call them bright stars," Garvey said of the Scherrs. "Extraordinary, bright, very positive -- examples to the world."

The Scherrs had lived at the foundation all of Naomi's life, Garvey said. Alan Scherr's wife, Kia, and her two sons did not travel with them to India.

According to the foundation's Web site, the community is led by Master Charles, a former leading disciple of Swami Paramahansa Muktananda. He is described on the Web site as "one of the most popular spiritual teachers from India to build a following the West in the 1970s." He taught a form of yoga.

Garvey identified the Synchronicity injured as Helen Connolly of Toronto, who was grazed by a bullet; Rudrani Devi and Linda Ragsdale, both of Nashville, who both underwent surgery for bullet wounds; and Michael Rudder of Montreal, who remains in intensive care after being shot three times. Other members of the mission narrowly escaped the attack.

For those who are anxious about the welfare of their relatives, the police control room numbers in Mumbai are:
091-22-22621983
22625020
22621449
22620111
2262-1855

The State Department has also set up this toll-free number for people to check on their loved ones: 1-888-407-4747


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