Nearly six years after it was left scarred and bloodied in the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks that forced its closure, Jewish outreach centre Chabad House has sprung back to life.
25 Rabbis from across Asia including Thailand, Singapore and Hong Kong were present today at the ceremony to mark the reopening of the six-storey refurbished centre, one of city’s landmarks ravaged during the 59-hour mayhem by 10 young Pakistani terrorists who brought Mumbai down to its knees on November 26, 2008.
The assault on Chabad House, also known as Nariman House, in a narrow bustling lane in Colaba in south Mumbai, had left six people dead, including Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his pregnant wife Rivika who ran the centre. The couple had come to Mumbai in 2003 to serve the local Jewish community.
However, Moshe, the two-year-old son of Holtzbergs, was saved by his Indian nanny Sandra Samuel and the family’s handyman-cum-cook Qazi Zakir Hussain alias Jackie, a Muslim.
Moshe now lives in Israel with his grandparents and Sandra moved with him to take care of the orphaned child. The Israeli government honoured her with the title of ‘Righteous Gentile’, the highest award presented to non-Jews, and allowed her an extended stay in the country.
It was a poignant day for all present, especially Rabi Nachman Holtzberg, father of Gavriel.
“It’s a very special day for his family and friends. Everybody remembers that terrifying day and the tragedy. The couple had spread the message of goodness, hope, tolerance and love. We need to ensure their mission to spread love continues to grow further. I would like to thank all those who stood with us,” a solemn Holtzberg said.
Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky, vice chairman of Merkos L’lnyonei Chinuch, the Jewish group’s educational arm, which helped rebuild the centre, described the reopening as “a moment of tears as also of joy”.
“We will not fight terror with AK 47, not with grenades. We will fight by spreading love. I had pledged rebuilding. It’s a moment of tears as well as a moment of joy. We will continue their (the late couple’s) legacy,” he said.
“I think this is really a message for the whole world. You can overcome challenges, even the most horrific of challenges,” he said adding that “this project serves as a beacon of light and hope that evil will not prevail. We did not leave Mumbai since the attacks.