Every year around November 26, the anniversary of the 2008 Mumbai terror attack, a touching commemoration commences. This year, due to coronavirus restrictions, it will be virtual.
The program, organized by the Indian Embassy in Israel, the Indian Jewish Heritage Center (IJHC), and the Cochin Heritage Center, will include a name-reading ceremony, recollections of the victims by family and friends, dignitaries' speeches, and a remembrance prayer. It will begin promptly at 8 p.m.
Please be with us when we join hands with the Indian Jewish Heritage Center (IJHC) and the Cochin Heritage Center to solemnly remember the innocent victims of 26/11 Mumbai Terror attacks on 26 Nov, 2020, 2000 hrs Israel time #2611MumbaiAttacks.https://t.co/9N9MI5MLby pic.twitter.com/U8EwTErg2M— India in Israel (@indemtel) November 21, 2020
Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his wife, Rivka, who were Chabad emissaries, established their presence in the Chabad Center - Nariman House - in Mumbai shortly after they got married, a building which they had raised money to purchase.
On November 26, 2008, a well-coordinated terror attack – which was led, according to the Indian government, by the Pakistan-based Islamist organization Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) – swept through Mumbai, killing 166 people. One of the 12 targeted buildings was the Chabad Center, mainly its fifth and sixth floors. The Holtzbergs, along with four other Jews in the building, were among the victims.
Their son Moshe, who was two years old at the time, survived the attack – chiefly thanks to his nanny, Sandra Samuel who, after hours of taking refuge on the first floor of the six-floor building, heard Moshe's cries, and found him lying next to his parents on the second floor. She pulled him out of the house and ran. Samuel currently resides in Israel to witness Moshe's growth, but plans to move back to Mumbai to be with her sons.
In preparation for the memorial service, the director of Chabad in Thailand at the time, Rabbi Yosef Chaim Kantor, decided not to renovate the wrecked floors, in an effort to remember and symbolize the tragedy.
The attack was allegedly orchestrated by Islamist Hafiz Saeed, LeT's founder.
Saeed has continuously denied any involvement in the attacks. Pakistani authorities first placed him under house arrest in 2009. A month later he was cleared of all charges and was roaming the country freely until 2017, when his house arrest was reinstated. The Lahore High Court found no "tangible" evidence against Saeed at the time.
Two years ago, Reuters noted that the attack was "an assault that raised fears of war with Pakistan."Even though Pakistan denied any involvement at the time, and offered cooperation, "tension soared between the nuclear-armed rivals." US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called on the Pakistani government to invoke sanction against LeT and its affiliates, pursuant to UN Security Council obligations.
In February 2019, Pakistan banned Jamaat ud Dawa (JUD), believed to be a front for Saeed's LeT. The Islamist organization is on the UN's list of terrorist groups. Muhammad Jammal, a former Pakistani intelligence official, testified at the time that Saeed had been reportedly counseled and encouraged by Abdullah Azzam, a mentor to Osama bin Laden.
In January of 2018, Moshe Holtzberg returned to Mumbai with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for a dedication ceremony at the Nariman Center, nine years after the attack. Now a teen, he has already pledged to return to Mumbai as an emissary.
Join the commemoration here.