Postcard from... Mumbai


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The Independent Online

It was one of the targets of a group of Pakistani gunmen in 2008, but six years later a new and improved Chabad centre has been opened.

Chabad operates centres throughout the world to enable local and expatriate Jews to stay in touch with their Judaism, whether they are travelling or in an area with a small Jewish community.

The Mumbai Chabad Centre was an obvious target for the gunmen, members of Lashkar-e-Taiba (Soldiers of the Pure), who killed 166 people in a 60-hour rampage. Victims included Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his wife. Their infant son escaped in the arms of his Indian nanny, and the two now live in Israel.

Rabbis from all over Asia attended yesterday’s opening ceremony. The building’s memorial includes a recreation of the killed rabbi’s home and videos about Jewish culture,

Since the attacks, the Mumbai Chabad Centre has conducted spiritual services and social outreach from temporary locations in the western Indian port city.

Reconstruction was delayed while Rabbi Holtzberg’s parents briefly fought the New York-based Jewish group in a Mumbai court over who would control and redesign the property. The property title lies with the Chabad of India Trust, which Gavriel Holtzberg helped to set up in 2005. But the two sides dropped the case in 2011, with the organisation assuming stewardship.

Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky, of the Jewish group’s educational arm, said: “This project serves as a beacon of light and hope that evil will not prevail.”