An Israeli couple will take charge of Mumbai's Chabad House, a Jewish community center that has been without a permanent rabbi since the previous leader was killed in the November 2008 terror attacks, a Chabad official said Thursday.
Rabbi Avraham Berkowitz, who heads the Chabad Mumbai Relief Fund, said the new couple will replace Gavriel and Rivkah Holtzberg, who were among the six murdered during a spasm of violence that left the center scarred with bullet holes and grenade blasts.
Their infant son, Moshe, escaped in the arms of his nanny. In all, 166 people across the city were killed in the rampage.
Shimon Rosenberg, father of Rivka Holtzberg, told Ynet he was simultaneously overjoyed and sad about the nomination. "It is the continuation of tradition, the mission, and maintenance of the place until Moshe grows up and becomes an envoy there, to continue on his parents' path," he said.
Rosenberg said he had considered traveling to Mumbai to take over for his daughter and her husband, but that he hadn't wanted to leave their young son behind.
"Because of the trauma, rabbis and psychologists have recommended not to do this until the boy grows up. They said he must stay in warm surroundings," he said.
"We are raising him to continue his parents' work. I have spoken to the envoy who will take over in Mumbai and he said he will keep the place until Moshe fulfills mitzvahs of the halacha."
Rabbi Chanoch Gechman and his wife, Leiky, who have been making trips to Mumbai since 2006, will move to the Indian financial capital within a few weeks, the Chabad Lubavitch group said on its website.
Gechman, 25, was a student of Gavriel Holtzberg.
Mumbai's Chabad House, part of an international network run by the Orthodox Chabad Lubavitch movement, served as a spiritual oasis, hostel and kosher food source for travelers. It also offered religious instruction to Mumbai's tiny community of Jews, who settled here 2,000 years ago.
It has been shuttered since the November 2008 attack, but members of the Chabad community have continued to gather at another, undisclosed location.