In Mumbai, a festival of light rekindles Jewish hope
Exactly a month ago, Mumbai was the target of one of the most devastating terror attacks in India. 173 people died and several injured as terrorists attacked key landmarks in the city. Mumbaikars are trying to move on even as memories of those three fateful days, when the city was held to ransom by terrorists, still continue to haunt them.
The devastating attacks also cast a shadow on festivals. Special prayers for the victims and a sombre mood marked the much-subdued Bakri-Eid and Christmas in the city.
Fighting back fears of congregating at a public place, a sizeable number of Jews-both Indians and foreigners-came forward to attend a prayer meeting organised by Chabad House on the occasion of Hanukkah, the Jewish festival that celebrates the victory of good over evil.
In the symbolic backdrop of the imposing Gateway of India , a giant menorah, a nine-branched candle stand (almost 20-ft tall) was set up and-as a man seated on a crane poured oil-Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky (from the Chabad headquarters in New York), took the podium and honored the memories of the dead.
Hundreds gathered in the Indian city of Mumbai on Thursday to commemorate the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah and honor the memories of the rabbi, his wife and others who were killed in terror attacks last month on a Jewish center and other locations.
People stood at the Gateway to India monument for the lighting of a menorah, the nine-branch candelabra. A similar ceremony had been held an hour earlier at the Jewish center, called the Chabad House.
The rabbi, Gavriel Holtzberg, and his wife, Rivka, were among six people killed when attackers assaulted the Chabad House, one of several targets hit in the coordinated terrorist strike.
Holtzberg, who was affiliated with the Orthodox Chabad-Lubavitch movement, in past years was the one to light the Hanukkah candles at those same places.
In addition to commemorating the slain, the ceremonies underscored the religious movement's determination to rebuild the center, continue its activities and impart its spirit in Mumbai, where it has served the Jewish community for many years.
The Chabad Web site said Rabbi Shimon Rosenberg, Rivka's father, lit the menorah at the Gateway to India, a stone arch near the Taj Mahal Hotel that was the entry point for the people who launched the attack.