India's Jewish community, thrown in the spotlight after it was targeted in the Mumbai attacks, will rebuild the damaged Chabad-Lubavitch center, the group's country head said on Monday.
Nariman House, which was nearly destroyed in a siege that killed 171 people in Mumbai, including the center's Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his wife Rivka, will be rebuilt and opened again shortly, Dov Goldberg said.
"We are very determined to rebuild because the activities of the Chabad-Lubavitch have to continue and we cannot let this attack stop that," he told Reuters.
They would assess the damage as soon as police hand over custody of the building, Goldberg said.
"We will rebuild on the same site for now, and will look to expand the center and its activities," he said. "Certainly, we will have maximum security."
Nariman House, home to the Mumbai chapter of the Chabad-Lubavitch Jewish movement, was one of 10 sites attacked by gunmen during a 60-hour siege in the city that began on November 26.
The six-storey house, tucked away in a narrow lane in a bustling market in the Colaba neighborhood, is a short distance from the luxury hotels and train station that were also attacked.
Long Jewish history in India
The rabbi, his 28-year-old wife and three other hostages were killed, but the rabbi's 2-year-old son Moshe was saved by his nanny and is with his maternal grandparents, Shimon and Yehudit Rosenberg, in Israel.
The Rosenbergs were interested in returning to Mumbai with baby Moshe and running the center, Goldberg said, but a final decision would be made when the center was ready.
Holtzberg came to Mumbai in 2003 to run a synagogue and Torah classes as part of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement, an Orthodox Jewish group which has about 4,000 emissaries at more than 3,000 sites around the world.
Fewer than 5,000 Jews remain among India's 1.1 billion people, but the faith has a long history in the secular country, with the first established community thought to have been formed in the southern state of Kerala in 70 AD.
"There is support from the community around the world to continue the work of the Chabad House in Mumbai, so we are very determined to make a new beginning," Goldberg said.