Chabadniks in India deny espionage charge
By GIL STERN STERN SHEFLER
February 7, 2012 17:51
Chabadniks in the southern Indian city of Kochi on Tuesday vehemently denied a report that appeared in local media earlier in the day accusing them of being part of an Israeli covert operation.
Rabbi Shneor Zalman and Yaffa Shenoi told The Jerusalem Post they were stunned by a story run by the Times of India in which unnamed Indian security officials said they were secret Israeli agents that would soon be deported from the country.
“I was invited here by the Jewish community of Kochi with the full knowledge of local authorities,” said Zalman, a 27-year-old rabbi from Jerusalem. “I have no idea how they got the impression I was part of a Mossad operation.”
He said he and Shenoi ran an outreach center catering to Jewish travelers in the popular tourist destination as well as to the city’s remaining 50 Jews, part of a once much larger community whose origins date back to the 16th century. Zalman insisted their sole motivation for being in the country was to provide religious services to local members of the Jewish community and had nothing to do with Israel.