Mumbai Chabad Center reopens after attacks

Rabbis from across Asia on Tuesday celebrated the reopening of the Jewish center targeted by rampaging Pakistani gunmen who stormed through Mumbai on a killing spree back in 2008. These attacks on the Chabad center and other locations in the city left 166 people dead. Among them were six people from the local orthodox Jewish center, including the chief Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his wife.

Rabbi Israel Kozlovsky, who now runs the center, said that the rebuilt center would house a $2.5 million Jewish Museum as well as Mumbai’s first memorial to those killed in the attacks, which also targeted things such as a train station, a popular tourist cafe, and the Taj Mahal hotel. The building’s memorial includes a recreation of the rabbi’s home and videos about Jewish culture.

“This is the day we can celebrate their lives and the message of light that they spread,” Rabbi Nachman Holtzberg, the dead rabbi’s father, said through a translator to a roomful of rabbis who had traveled across Asia set up by the group Chabad-Lubavitch. The group has a presence in 80 countries and has grown rapidly in the last two decades in Asia. Since the terrorist attacks, the Chabad center conducted spiritual services and outreach from temporary locations throughout the city.

Reconstruction was delayed while Holtzberg’s parents fought the New York-based Jewish group in a Mumbai court over who would control and redesign the center. Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky from the group’s educational arm said that the reopening should be seen as a message to the world.

“You can overcome challenges, even the most horrific of challenges,” he said, adding: “this project serves as a beacon of light and hope that evil will not prevail.”