Nariman House reopens after the 26/11 attack

For the grandparents of baby Moshe, crossing the threshold of Nariman House which re-opened on Tuesday after the 26/11 terror attack almost six years ago, was both joyful and agonising.

It was within these walls – which still bear the scars of bullets and shrapnel – that Rabbi Nachman Holtzberg’s son Gavriel and daughter-in-law Rivka were killed during the 2008 siege. Their two-year-old son Moshe was pulled away to safety by his Indian nanny Sandra Samuel.

“I am happy but we cannot forget, this is where we lost them,” Mr. Holtzberg told The Hindu. Moshe is now almost eight years old. “He asks about his parents a lot. He wants to come to India and see where they lived,” said Mr. Holtzberg.

On their tiny camera, his wife Freida proudly displays photographs of Moshe on the football field, eating ice-cream and playing with his Lego set. “He looks just like my son did at that age. He also loves going to the zoo,” says Freida Holtzberg. His nanny Sandra, who remains in Israel, is still a part of his life.

Gavriel led the Chabad Lubavitch community in the city and lived at Nariman House. The building has now been resurrected but still bears chilling testimony to the terror strike. At the spot where Gavriel was killed, the wall ridden with bullet marks remains intact.

Two entire floors are preserved as they were during the siege, with the walls and ceiling pock-marked with gun-shots and blood-stains. Moshe’s room has paintings of little birds and alphabets, amidst bullet-holes.

The two floors will house a $ 2.5 million museum, a memorial to all the victims of 26/11. “We don’t want to whitewash history, so we preserved the interiors,” said Nick Applebaum who led the design for the museum.

‘First true memorial’

“This is a project for all of India. It will be the first true memorial for the victims of the Mumbai terror attacks,” he added. The terrace of Nariman House will list the names of all 166 victims of the attack. It is a vantage point from where most of the 26/11 targets can be seen.

The museum is yet to be built but the rest of the Chabad Centre re-opened in Tuesday with more than 25 rabbis from across Asia joining the celebrations. “We have not left Mumbai for a day. We want to continue their work. We did not want to look for a new building. We hope the families find solace here,” said the new director of the Chabad Centre Rabbi Yisroel Kozlovsky.

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