Hoping to continue the legacy of Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his wife Rivka,both of whom were killed in the 26/11 attack on their Jewish centre in the city,the ultra-orthodox Chabad-Lubavitch movement has chosen Rivkas younger sister Sara and her husband Rabbi Yaakov-David Leiter to replace them and carry on providing visiting Jews a home away from home in Mumbai.
The Leiters are based in the northern Israeli city of Safed and applied for long-term visas this month which,Ministry of External Affairs sources said,were being processed. Chabad sources said the movement has also more or less made up its mind to relocate the Chabad House from the building in the narrow lane in Colaba which was attacked by the Lashkar-e-Toiba terrorists,and would look for a new place.
Chabad had been scouting for a couple to replace Gavriel and Rivka while its rabbis working elsewhere in India and abroad made short trips to Mumbai to pick up the pieces in the aftermath of the carnage in which four Jewish visitors to the centre were also killed.
The choice of Sara and her husband,it is learnt,was not difficult as her parents in Israel,Rabbi Shimon Rosenberg and Yehudit,were keen to preserve and build on the memory of Rivka and Gavriel as they were famous for their hospitality and kindness.
In fact,Rosenberg had told The Indian Express in December that when Moshe,the two-year-old son of Gavriel and Rivka who survived the attack,grows up,he wants him to return to Mumbai and do what his father was doing.
For now,Sara and Yaakov-David are not expected to find their task in Mumbai unfamiliar as the Leiters have been associated with a similar but much larger Jewish centre called Ascent in Safed. Yaakov-Davids father Rabbi Shaul-Yosef Leiter is the executive director of Ascent which owns a former hotel with 85 beds in Safed,a synagogue and a Jewish library which act as a youth hostel,recreation centre and a place for religious retreats. (With Kavitha Iyer)