In another re-christening ceremony, Mumbai’s Jewish outreach centre and one of 26/11 targets Chabad House --better known in the past as Nariman House – will be renamed as Nariman Light House’ on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the mayhem.
Announcing this, present Rabbi Israel Kozlovsky, who also heads the Chabad Trust in India, said here on Friday that the renaming ceremony would take place on November 25, the eve of 26/11 attacks, at the main Jewish social-cultural-religious hub at Colaba in south Mumbai.
The event, which comes 10 months after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the place, will also mark the unveiling of a memorial on the Nariman House terrace to honour all the victims of the terror strikes.
The Chabad House was one of the main chosen targets of 10 Pakistani terrorists who sneaked into south Mumbai, through the Arabian Sea route and disembarked at a Colaba fishing jetty, barely a stone’s throw away.
The Chabad House is a partially re-built five-storey structure, a grey coloured building at Colaba in South Mumbai – which had suffered heavy damage owing to an intense firing indulged in by the two Pakistani terrorists holed up on its premises during the 26/11 attacks.
Rabbi Gavriel and then pregnant Rivka Holtzberg, two other Israelis, an American and a Mexican, all Jews, besides Indian security officials were among 166 people killed in the November 26-29, 2008 Pakistani fidayeen attacks on five Mumbai terror targets, including two five-star hotels, a popular café, a train terminus and the Jewish learning centre.
Moshe, son of Rabbi Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg, survived the attacks. For the time after he lost his parents in the 26/11 attacks under traumatic circumstances, then Baby Moshe and now 11-year-old Moshe Holtzberg visited Chabad House in January this year, to revive his babyhood memories.
Nearly six years after the Pakistani terrorists wreaked mayhem on its premises killing six persons, the Chabad House had formally been thrown open by Jewish group Chabad-Lubavitch on August 26, 2014 in the presence of Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg’s parents and 25 Rabbis from across Asia.
Rebuilt at the cost of 2.5 million US dollars with contributions from the Rohr family in the US and the global Jewish community, the Nariman House now houses a restaurant on the first floor, a synagogue on the second floor, and a community hall on the third floor.
After the Mumbai siege, Moshe had left for Israel along with his nanny Sandra to live with his grandparents.
Moshe used to live with his parents on the fifth floor of Chabad House. The fourth and fifth floors of the building, which once housed the guest rooms and the Rabbi’s residence respectively, have been converted into a museum, while a memorial has been set up on the roof top to honour 26/11 terror attack victims.
The second floor which houses a small synagogue on the right side has a plaque installed showing the exact spots where Rabbi Gabriel and two other Rabbis guests were shot dead when the Pakistani gunmen stormed the centre around 9.45 pm on the night of Nov 26, 2008.
A memorial of sorts has been created at the place where Moshe’s slain father Rabbi Gavriel’s body lay after he was gunned down by Pakistani terrorists with a message that reads: “Here was slain Emissary Rabbi Gavriel Noach Holtzberg, May Hashem avenge his blood, May his soul be bound up in the bond of life.”
Eight bullet marks on the wall next to it have been kept intact as the grim reminder of the killings. The Rabbi’s wife Rivka was on the top floor with three other guests who were held hostage by the two gunmen and eventually killed.
The fourth floor, which has been refurbished, is scarred with hundreds of bullet marks on its roof, a reminder of the fierce gun battle that ensued here. However, a collapsed side wall has been rebuilt.
On the fifth floor living quarters, baby Moshe’s room still bears his name in Hebrew on the wall lovingly decorated with bright paintings by his parents. One wall shows the blue markings which measured his height as he grew up.