A peace-loving centre for Jews from around the world to take rest, pray and learn about the religion is how Nariman House has been described by leading Jews in the city.
Mumbai’s Jewish community united in prayer for Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg, his wife Rivka — they were among those killed by the terrorists — and other Jews held hostage inside the House.
Nariman House, also Chabad House, is the headquarters of the ultra-orthodox Chabad-Lubavitch movement of Hasidic Jews. It has been housing Jewish travellers in Mumbai since 2003.
Many residents of Nariman House are Israelis travelling in India. It provides fully kosher food.
In an interview to an Israeli newspaper, Rabbi Holtzberg, who grew up in New York had earlier said the centre helped many young Jews who “need relief” from their time in the army.
The Consul General of Israel in Mumbai, Orna Sagiv, said: “It functions as a social group and many Jews from Mumbai go there on Fridays. The Jews staying there are either backpacking travellers or businessmen. Nariman House is a nice place for them to go to and be with people from their own community,” Sagiv told Hindustan Times before receiving news of their deaths.
“I know Rabbi Holtzberg well and his lovely wife and their child. They are nice people. It is a very worrying time and we are just waiting and praying.”
The chairman of a Jewish charitable trust, who knew Rabbi Holtzberg well, said the entire Jewish community here — about 5,000 — was praying.
“He was one of the finest human beings I knew,” said chairman of Sir Jacob Sassoon Charity Trust based in Warren Road and city’s leading Jewish community figure Solomon Sophar.
“The Rabbi gave Jews coming from Israel and elsewhere a place to stay and, importantly a place to be able to pray. He was doing his duty to God and to man. He was not preaching to outsiders and, as our religion states, did not try to convert others from outside the religion.”