South Asia

Work begins to restore attacked Mumbai Jewish centre

Eliran Russo inside Nariman House
Image caption Much of Nariman House still remains strewn with bullets...

The Jewish centre that was attacked by gunmen in the Indian city of Mumbai in November 2008 is being renovated.

Nariman House was one of the sites under siege for more than 40 hours when 10 gunmen attacked Mumbai. More than 170 people died in the attacks.

The parents of Rabbi Gavriel Nocah Holtzberg and his wife Rivkah are taking care of the premises.

The couple were among six people taken hostage and killed by two gunmen at the centre.

Both gunmen were eventually killed.

Miraculously survived

The renovated centre will be open to the public in a few months and will have a memorial to the murdered rabbi and his wife.

Image caption ... but restoration work has begun in earnest

"The terrorists may have murdered Gabi and Rivki, but they will not be able to end their work or their legacy.  We won't allow it - that's why we are currently putting together the plan," said Rabbi Yosef C Kantor, the official responsible for the rebuilding effort.

Nariman House is run by a New York-based Orthodox Jewish organisation called Chabad Lubavitch, which currently operates from an undisclosed location in Mumbai (Bombay) because of what it sees as a continued security threat.

Rabbi Holtzberg's and Rivkah's son, Moshe, miraculously survived the attack along with the family's maid and family cook.

His grandparents and the maid, Sandra Samuel, who was honoured by Israel for saving his life, are looking after him and he will eventually inherit the premises, said Eliran Russo, their representative in Mumbai.

"We started work on 11th October and will try to finish as soon as possible," Mr Russo said.

"We will have a kosher kitchen and education centre. The family is finding comfort in the fact that their home is being rebuilt and they are participating in it."

Grenade attack

The principal donor behind the renovation is Samuel Nitka, president of the GRH Energy group.

Image caption Sandra Samuel has been caring for Moshe since she rescued him

"But most of the organisations that are talking to us [about donations] are only doing that as of now," Mr Russo said.

The building is located in a congested part of south Mumbai. From its terrace it is possible to see the sea from two sides and the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel - also attacked by the gunmen - from a distance.

The six-floor Nariman centre was badly damaged by heavy gunfire and a grenade attack. Some residents of the area were involved in the rescue operation staged by commandos.

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