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Mumbai Jewish community marks 5 years since terror attack, continues to rebuild

MUMBAI - Members of the Jewish community in India's largest city remembered the lives lost on the 5th anniversary of the Mumbai attacks Tuesday, holding a small ceremony inside the gutted building where their friends were killed and vowing to rebuild in the same location.

} The attack at Chabad House -- part of three days of mayhem at the hands of 10 well-armed Islamic extremists from Pakistan -- left six people dead. More than 160 people died in the overall siege, which included separate attacks on local hotels, a train station and a popular cafe.

“The rebuilding of the center, is perhaps one of the strongest symbols of the greatest victory over those terrorists who tried to create terror and change the way things are done,” said Jonathan Miller, Consul General of Israel’s Mumbai consulate.

“What you’re doing here is the loudest way, the strongest way, of shouting out ‘we will continue,’” he said in remarks held on the building’s ground floor, with scaffolding, sacks of cement and electrical wires as the backdrop of the remembrance event.

The Chabad House, a combination social and spiritual center for Jewish and non-Jewish guests, is expected to re-open in the coming months, according to Rabbi Israel Kozlovsky, who co-directs the center with his wife Chaya.

The American Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg, one of the founding directors at the Chabad House, and his wife were among those killed in the attack on the center.

At Tuesday’s ceremony, seven candles were lit -- one for each victim at the house and another to represent the victims across Mumbai.

Rabbi Kozlovsky and his wife Chaya accepted the position to direct the center more than a year ago. They said they initially had concerns about taking the job, given the cultural differences with their native Israel, and the events of 2008 at the location.

“I remember the first few nights, we couldn’t sleep,” Kozlovsky told

Security precautions are part of the Kozlovsky’s life in their new city, and at the center. At Tuesday’s anniversary event, security agents out-numbered guests.

The Kozlovskys said they take safety precautions while doing their work, but they want to continue welcoming people into the center, and into their new city. They hope to provide assistance to Jews in India by expanding the House’s work with more education and prayer sessions.

They also see their adopted home as providing new opportunities.

“It’s a good challenge,” said Kozlovsky. “Everything can happen in Mumbai, in India.” 

The Kozlovskys are not sure how long they’ll stay in Mumbai, but they say they’re keen to continue the work Holtzbergs started.

“We live their lives on a daily basis,” the young rabbi told “Everything that we do in India, they are always… standing here behind us.”