Nearly six years after the deadly terror attacks in Mumbai, the Jewish prayer house that was targeted by terrorists reopened Tuesday at the same spot amid tight security.
The six-floor Chabad House in downtown Mumbai, with a synagogue and a kosher kitchen, was blessed by 25 rabbis from Asia. Visitors were shown the damaged, grenade- and bullet-marked walls of the renovated prayer house, which will also have a modest museum and memorial on two floors, the center’s members told reporters.
In November 2008, 10 heavily armed terrorists snuck into Mumbai by boats from Pakistan, and launched attacks on several sites, including two-five star hotels, a train station, a hospital, a cafe and the Jewish center. In the attack, 165 people were killed, including six Americans, and over 300 were injured. India and the United States accused members of the now-banned Pakistani militant group Lashkar-i-Taiba of planning and carrying out the attacks.
During the attack, the terrorists had held the Jewish family in the building hostage and killed six people, including the rabbi and his pregnant wife. Their infant son, Moshe Holtzberg, was carried out of the building by his Indian nanny and now lives in Israel. The nanny was later conferred an honorary citizenship by the Israeli government.
At the reopening Tuesday, Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky said the movement wanted to honor the memory of the slain members. “That building which bears their blood, and the blood of other martrys, that is where we have rebuilt for the continuity of their message of love and kindness,” he said. The center is part of the orthodox Israeli Chabad-Lubavitch movement.
The five-star hotels and other buildings were reconstructed and reopened within a year of the attack. But Chabad House’s renovation has taken much longer. After the attack, the center continued its services from different temporary and low-key sites in Mumbai.
“We are 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 there,” the new rabbi, Israel Kozlovsky, told reporters earlier.
The dramatic siege and rescue of the building was shown live on television as 22 Indian security commandos rappelled from a military helicopter and landed on the roof of the building to rescue the members. The terrorists were killed after several hours of gunfire.
In November 2012, India hanged the lone surviving gunman from the coordinated terror attacks Ajmal Amir Kasab, a Pakistani citizen.