Chabad House in Colaba [a neighborhood in Mumbai, India], 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 center.
Outside the Mumbai Chabad House after the 11-26-2008 attacks, a portrait of Rabbi Gavriel Noach Holtzberg and his wife Rivka, both murdered by terrorists, was placed on the building.
Rabbi reinvents Chabad House as café and memorial
By Nazia Sayed, Anil Raina & Bipin Kumar Singh, Nazia Sayed, Anil Raina & Bipin Kumar Singh • Mumbai Mirror
Chabad House in Colaba [a neighborhood in Mumbai, India], 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.
Fourth and fifth floors will house the museum. The walls on these floors will not be repainted and the bullet marks will be retained. "These floors speak the story of the three-day siege. Press articles, videos, messages, and personal accounts of family members of the deceased will be part of the installations in this museum."
Sources said the Mumbai police advised Chabad House to do away with the guest house as it could pose a security threat. David Coleman Headley, the chief architect of 26/11, had stayed as a guest at Chabad House while recceing for targets.
The building's top floor, where Rabbi Holtzberg and Rivka's son baby Moshe, the only survivor of the attack, grew up will be restored to its original look, using pictures clicked by his parents, friends and relatives. "This floor has an entirely different vibe. Rivka recorded every little increase in Moshe's height on the walls. There are beautiful sketches and letters of the Jewish alphabet drawn on the walls. All this will be retained," said the Rabbi. All the old furniture, wall adornments, even Moshe's toys will be recreated.
Though Rabbi Kozlovsky does not want baby Moshe to ever know what happened on November 26, 2008 in this building, he maintains that Chabad House belongs to him. "If baby Moshe wants to return, I can only say that it is his house and he would not need any permission."
There was significant fighting between the Holtzberg family and Chabad over who would take over Nariman House and serve as Chabad's next rabbi in Mumbai, which accounts for some – but not all – of the delay in rehabbing the building.
A large amount of money was raised for the Holtzberg's son Moshe, as well – but as far as I know, no public accounting of that money has ever been given.