It’s an attack on the Jewish community in India: Delhi Rabbi

November 29th, 2008 - 3:40 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Nov 29 (IANS) The rabbi in the only Jewish synagogue in Delhi said the terror assault on the Nariman House - the Jewish outreach center in Mumbai - was an “attack ont the Jewish community in India” and made Jews apprehensive about their future. He also said that synagogues here will be “extra cautious” now in letting people in.

“It’s only natural, isn’t it? The attack in Nariman House was clearly an attack on the Jewish community in India. This incident has brought about apprehension in the minds of Jews here,” Ezekiel Issac Malekar, honorary secretary and the rabbi in the Judah Hyam Synagogue in the capital, told IANS.

There are an estimated 5,000 Jews in India, 4,000 of whom live in Mumbai itself.

Sitting in the front courtyard of the small synagogue with the fragrant myrtle tree standing tall, Malekar added that synagogues which generally don’t discriminate guests are now going to be cautious.

“Synagogues will be extra cautious now. Having said that, we had a prayer meet in our synagogue here last night in which we invited a Hindu priest, a Muslim priest and others to pray together for the safe release of all the captives in Mumbai’s terror attacked sites,” he said.

Israel’s Orthodox rescue service ZAKA confirmed the death of the leader of the Chabad Jewish Center (as the Nariman House is also known) Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg, his wife Rivka and three others who were victims of the terror attack in Mumbai.

More than a dozen Israelis from the area are however still missing.

The standoff between Indian authorities and terrorists at the Nariman House began Nov 26. Indian forces stormed the Jewish Center on Nov 28, killing the terrorists inside.

A staff member, Sandra Samuel, at the center managed to escape the building Nov 27 along with the rabbi’s two-year-old son, Moshe. Moshe was later reunited with his maternal grandparents who had flown down to Mumbai from Israel Nov 27.

Malekar said that a special prayer service for the rabbi and his wife will be held in the synagogue in Delhi Dec 5 (next Friday) since the ritual to hold prayer services for the deceased soul is organized seven days after death.

“Despite all this we are trying to hold our own. The Israel consulate, friends and others from abroad are constantly in touch with me, but I am a little disappointed that the Indian government has not really bothered to get in touch,” he said.

Malekar also added that the incident will affect the tourist inflow from Israel to India.

“India is a favourite destination with a lot of Israeli tourists and back packers. Most of these backpackers in Delhi stay in the hotels in Paharganj and come to visit the synagogue.

“We get almost 20,000 tourists visiting us in winters…this time however the numbers will dwindle. The attendance has already fallen,” Malekar said.

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