Three Years Later: Chabad's Renewed Outreach in Mumbai
Three years ago this week Jews around the world held their breath, praying their brethren would survive the Islamist terror attack on the Nariman Chabad House and other sites in Mumbai.
The prayer was answered in the form of 2-year-old baby Moishe, the son of Chabad-Lubavitch emissaries to Mumbai Rabbi Gavriel and Rebetzin Rivky Holtzberg and the sole Jewish survivor of the horrific four-day rampage on India's largest city.
Chabad has since resumed its outreach work in the city, but with far tighter security and a much lower profile. Nariman House is reportedly slated to reopen sometime next year, but Chabad's activities are conducted in a different location, one that is made known to interested parties by word of mouth only.
Rabbi Chanoch Gechtman and his wife Leiky, parents of a young daughter, have continued the work begun by the Holtzbergs. Gechtman, a native of Migdal HaEmek, and his wife, whose parents live in Gedera, both understand, as Israelis, how to manage security issues and to the best of their ability, how to make sure their predecessors' sacrifice is never forgotten -- or repeated.
The Holtzbergs' son Moishe was just 2 years old when he was spirited out of the building by his courageous Indian nanny, Sandra. Physically unharmed, his pants soaked with the blood of his murdered parents, the little boy was found crying near his dead mother.
The bodies of four other Jewish victims were also eventually found: Rabbi Arye Leibush Teitelbaum and Rabbi Benzion Kruman had both stopped over at the Chabad House on their way back home from a kashruth supervision trip to the region. Yocheved Orpaz and Norma Shvarzblat Rabinovch were also staying there at the time.
At least 160 others also died in the massive attack that left 308 wounded, many of them in the city's CST train station and its famed Oberoi Trident and Taj Mahal Palace & Tower hotels. All told, there were nine attacks carried out by a team of 10 terrorists from the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorist organization on Wednesday November 26. The carnage did not end until Motzei Shabbat, November 29, 2008.
Fully one-third of the terrorist cell assigned to attack Mumbai was tasked with finding and destroying the Chabad House, according to subsequent reports. Today the building is empty.
Only one terrorist -- Ajmal Kasab -- was captured alive. He was tried in India and sentenced to death by hanging. An appeal of the sentence was dismissed in Feburary 2011.