Rabbi Reinvents Mumbai Chabad House as Café and Memorial
Chabad House in Colaba, one of the six targets of the bloody 26/11 terror attacks, will reinvent itself in less than six months as a restaurant, a community hall and a museum to the memory of those killed by terrorists at this Jewish outreach centre.
As the 26/11 attacks — that left 164 people dead and over 300 injured — complete five years today, Chabad House, where six people, including Rabbi Gavriel Noach Holtzberg and his wife Rivka were killed, has set into motion a project to transform the building into a monument of peace and hope. “When you want to fight darkness, you cannot chase it away with a stick or an AK-47. One can chase darkness away only with light and peace,” said Rabbi Israel Kozlovsky, who assumed office last year.
As part of the $900,000 (Rs 5.6 crore) revamp, the entire ground floor of the building located in the narrow Hormusji Street will be taken over by Israeli security agencies. Though entry to the building will be heavily regulated and visitors will have to pass through two layers of security, the restaurant on the first floor will be open to people of all faiths. “It will be a Jewish speciality cuisine restaurant, but everybody will be welcome,” said a source.
The outer ring of security around Chabad House will be handled by the Mumbai police. The outer ring of security around the Chabad House will be handled by the Mumbai police.
The building’s second floor, which was earlier a prayer room, will now also accommodate a library, a small waiting area and the new Rabbi’s office. While the entire floor will be spruced up, a corner where Rabbi Holtzberg and his wife Rivka’s bodies were found will be left untouched. “It will be a small memorial to the couple. The wall in this corner is riddled with bullet marks. Nobody had the heart to touch it,” the source said.
The third floor, which earlier served as a guest house, will be turned into a community hall. Apart from community gatherings, the hall will also be used to host private events by local Jews.