dead….pictures adorn the stairwells……Rabbi Kotlarsky helped rebuild the centre…..”You can overcome challenges, even the most
horrific of challenges…..You can and must rebuild….hope that evil will not prevail”….
Six years have gone by, in the blink of an eye. Today (August 26) is the grand re-opening of the Chabad House, in Colaba, downtown Mumbai (same location where the 26/11 attacks took place). It all looks quite gorgeous and we do not doubt the sincerity of the folks involved. Having said that, it does seem that these people have some sort of a death wish.
Given the hostile relationship between Indian and Pakistan (only 960 years of warfare left) it will be a brave man who can guarantee that 26/11 will never repeat. From what is known about the current state of (safety) preparations, we have grave doubts.
The little orphan boy (Moshe Holtzberg) is now 8 years of age (he looks to be a complete cutie pie) and his nanny (Sandra Samuel of Mumbai) is with him. For a person who is so unfortunate as to lose his mother (and father) as a baby, it is sure nice that he has a mother-figure to love him and make him feel loved. A thousand cheers for the Imma (mother in Hebrew) and her boy.
Holtzberg, the Jewish toddler who survived the 26/11 Mumbai terror
attack, is “doing well”, growing up in a “complicated situation” with
his grandparents, and Tel Aviv thanks Indians for saving him, the
Israeli envoy here has said.
“He is going to school. He is a
very healthy, happy and a strong kid, growing up under a very
complicated situation,” ambassador Alon Ushpiz said during an hour-long
meeting with editors at the IANS office here.
“He is growing up
without his parents. This obviously isn’t easy. He’s staying with his
grandparents,” the envoy said. “Also, in this case, an Israeli was saved
by an Indian citizen. His nanny took him out.”
When IANS spoke on phone to Moshe’s grandparents in November, he was
with them in Afula, a city in north Israel, 140 km from Jerusalem. They
said he was growing into a self-assured lad and was like any other
Moshe escaped thanks to his Indian nanny, Sandra
Samuel. She risked her life to rescue the toddler who was sitting beside
the blood-soaked bodies of his parents, crying. Since then she hasn’t
left him and was given Israeli citizenship.
On Tuesday, Aug. 26, surrounded by guests and more than 25 Chabad
emissaries in Asia who will be there for a regional conference, Chabad
of Mumbai’s headquarters—also known as Nariman House—will open its doors
“This will definitely be very emotional for many people,” affirms Rabbi Yisroel Kozlovsky, who now co-directs Chabad of Mumbai together with his wife, Chaya.
“This six-story building was continuously operating until the attack.
We’re not moving into a new building; we are returning to our original
building, and we will be continuing all of the activities that took
place here, and hopefully, grow even more. “We remember what happened, but we are working for the future.”
Kozlovsky explains that after a year-and-a-half of living and working
together with his wife in Mumbai, he more fully understands why Gabi
rushed to purchase a large building for his operation.
“There are so many possible complications here, bureaucratic and
otherwise, that it becomes very difficult to work without a permanent
base,” he says. “Now we will have security rooms, a synagogue, offices,
guest rooms, a restaurant and a commercial kitchen.
It will be very
different than running things out of a 1,200-square-foot apartment, but
it will, G‑d willing, allow us to grow. And it is, of course, fitting
that we do this in the same place as Gabi and Rivky.”
He adds that the official opening will also serve as the starting
point for the next phase of reconstruction: a $2.5 million museum to be
built in the apartment where the Holtzbergs lived and on the floor where
most of the murders occurred.
“I think this is really a message for the whole world,” adds
Kotlarsky. “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.”
By all accounts, Jewish life in Mumbai has benefited a great deal
since the Kozlovskys arrived. And the size of the community itself has
grown, including the new addition six weeks ago. Chaya Kozlovsky gave
birth to their second child, a baby boy, whose brit milah was celebrated at the Knesses Eliyahu Synagogue in the city.
“I think it’s the first Indian Menachem Mendel,” jokingly observes the new father.
While continuing ongoing Chabad projects, many of which were
initiated by the Holtzbergs, the Kozlovskys have worked diligently on
increasing their activities.
A Jewish kindergarten will open in time for
this school year, and with the recent opening of Mumbai’s new diamond
district in a different part of the city, they have established a
satellite Chabad center in that area to serve business travelers.