By Ashutosh Shukla / DNA India
Nariman House, that was running Chabad services in its premises till 2008, is scheduled to restart from August 26, two months prior to the sixth anniversary of the 26/11 terrorist attack, which is when it was shut down. Rabbi Gavriel and his five month pregnant wife, Rivka Holtzberg, who used to run the services, were killed along with four others. Their two-year-old son, Moshe, was rescued by his nanny and lives in Afula, Israel
Chabad House is a community center that mainly caters to Israelis and Jews. They are run by the Chabad Lubavitch movement, which has such centers over 70 countries. They have synagogues, prayer halls, offer Kosher food, run Torah classes and act as guest houses for those visiting the city. As of now, the services are being run from other undisclosed locations in the city.
Rabbi Israel Jacob, who runs the Chabad services in the city, told dna, “Yes, that is right. It will open on August 26.” He also confirmed that it will be renovated in the same way as an earlier press release from the Chabad-Lubavtich had stated, before the property went into dispute. On Monday, renovation work was underway.
“As of now, the work is going on and will continue till the night of August 25,” said Rabbi Jacob. As per earlier plans, the five floor structure will have a kosher kitchen that will cater to dietary needs of those visiting and the local Jewish community, on the first floor. The second floor will have a synagogue for prayer services and Torah study. The third floor will be used for functions and the fourth, will a memorial for the victims of the attack. The fifth floor will have a memorial dedicated to Rabbi Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg.
The redevelopment of Nariman House had come into dispute two years after the attack, only to be amicably resolved later. The family of the deceased alleged embezzlement on the part of some officials of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement. It was during this time that the matter reached court. However, a year later, the matter was settled amicably by the brother of the slain Rabbi, also called Moshe.
In an email reply, Moshe Holtzberg, late Gavriel’s brother said, “The fact that Nariman House is finally reopening after six years, is great. Keeping the place active, is what my brother and his wife, Rivka, did – and I am sure this is what they would have wanted: to continue the light of goodness in Mumbai. Now, greater than ever! Six years is not a short time and not usual. But this is not a usual story…..it has been long and difficult, but now we are focused on the fact that Nariman house has been re-built. And now nicer, than ever….This building is also now secured to my nephew (Moshe). As most people of India call him, “baby Moshe”…..The least that we can do is to give him the choice to come back. It has been in agreement by all involved and I have assurance that this building belongs to him. It is his home? and when he gets older, he might want to come back and continue the work of his parents, in Nariman house. He’s been there from the start, and naturally, it is his….”