Six years after the 26/11 terrorist attacks left Mumbai deeply scarred, one of the targets in downtown Colaba, the Chabad House centre, home to the ultra-orthodox Jewish movement Chabad-Lubavitch, is set to reopen on August 26. And in the words of new Rabbi Israel Kozlovsky, this will “add more light to get rid of the darkness”.
The attack on the five-storey building, originally called Nariman House, had killed six of its occupants, including Rabbi Gavriel Noach Holtzberg and his five-month pregnant wife Rivka. Their two-year-old son Moshe was rescued by his nanny Sandra Samuel.
Rabbi Kozlovsky, who heads the movement in Mumbai, said the Chabad House centre is a story of sheer grit and determination backed by the spirit to survive against all odds. “The motto is that we are not fighting the darkness with an AK-47. Our way to get rid of the darkness is by adding more light,” he told The Indian Express. The reopening of the Centre is a tribute and dedication to the work and commitment of the late Holtzbergs towards society and the needy, especially the Jews in India.
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The building, which was reduced to rubble after a shower of grenades on November 26, 2008, will also house the living legacy museum project in memory of the late Rabbi Gavriel and his wife. Two floors in the building are dedicated to the memories of the 26/11 attack with bullet marks on certain floors being kept intact. The room where the body of the late Rabbi and his wife were found has also been identified. “We need to remember this tragic incident as a source of strength. We believe in fighting evil and are determined to carry on our good work,” said Rabbi Kozlovsky.
The Nariman House was bought by the late Rabbi Gavriel in 2006 with funding support by New York’s Rohr family. The family, along with some other donors, helped rebuild Chabad House, which took almost three years. Given the sensitivities involved, this time around, it is not just the Chabad centre, but the entire area where it is housed, that has been fortified. “We were recommended by the Mumbai Police to beef up security. To protect guests and visitors to the house, we have implemented all suggestions given by the police and our security consultants,” said Rabbi Kozlovsky.
On August 26, the Chabad centre will witness a special ceremony — the Torah dedication ceremony for the synagogue. Alongside, the Rabbi has organised a special tour for all invitees. “Finally, the building is set to get back in action and see the light of day,” Rabbi Kozlovsky said, eager to take forward the late Rabbi Gabriel’s work.