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Mumbai Jewish centre attacked in 2008 to reopen

2014-08-26 14:49

Mumbai - A Jewish centre in Mumbai will reopen on Tuesday, nearly six years after heavily armed militants stormed the building and killed six people inside during the 2008 attacks on the city.

One of several high-profile targets assaulted by the gunmen, Chabad House in south Mumbai was left bullet-ridden and bereft of its directors Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his pregnant wife Rivky, who were both slain in the siege.

They were among 166 people killed in the three-day onslaught in November 2008, which also targeted luxury hotels, a popular cafe and a train station.

"I think this is really a message for the whole world", said Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky, a prominent member of the orthodox Chabad-Lubavitch movement, who helped to rebuild the centre.

"You can overcome challenges, even the most horrific of challenges. You can and must rebuild, and this project serves as a beacon of light and hope that evil will not prevail", he said in a statement.

Chabad House, tucked away down a narrow lane in the bustling area of Colaba market, was established as an open house for visiting Jews and the local community by the Holtzbergs after they arrived in Mumbai in 2003.

While they were among six people taken hostage in the centre and killed by the gunmen, their young son, then aged two, was plucked to safety by his nanny.

Since the attacks, the Chabad-Lubavitch movement has continued its work at various temporary locations across the city.

Twenty-five rabbis from across Asia will gather on Tuesday at the newly renovated centre, where plans for a $2.5m Jewish Museum on the fourth and fifth floors of the building will also be unveiled.

The refurbished Chabad House has security rooms, a synagogue, offices, guest rooms, a restaurant and a commercial kitchen, according to the Chabad.org.

"We're not moving into a new building, we are returning to our original building and we will be continuing and expanding all the activities that took place here", said Rabbi Israel Kozlovsky, new co-director of the centre with his wife, Chaya.

The 10 young gunmen who conducted the attacks, blamed on Pakistan-based Islamist group Lashkar-e-Taiba, came to the shore of south Mumbai after hijacking an Indian trawler out at sea.

In 2012, India executed the sole surviving gunman, Mohammed Ajmal Kasab.

The luxury Taj Mahal Palace hotel, the most high-profile target, reopened in 2010 after a $37.3m restoration.

AFP
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