Eight, including Jewish centre rabbi, stuck in Nariman House

November 28th, 2008 - 10:06 am ICT by IANS  

Mumbai, Nov 28 (IANS) Nariman House is known among Israelis as Chabad House, the Jewish centre at the centre of the terrorist drama unfolding in Mumbai. It is a popular stop for Israeli tourists, especially backpackers, who visit this country in thousands every year after finishing their national army service or after their university studies.Among those captured are the Rabbi of the centre, Gavriel Holtzberg, his wife Rivka and six others. The couple’s two-year-old son and a staff member at the center managed to escape the building.

Sandra Samuel, 44, the cook who pulled the boy out the building, said she saw Rabbi Holzberg, his wife Rivka and two other unidentified guests lying on the floor, apparently “unconscious.”

Rivka Holtzberg’s family live in the Israeli city of Afula. Her father, Rabbi Shimon Rosenberg, said: “I got a call telling us to listen to news of terrorists attacking in Mumbai. We tried to get in touch but all the systems went down and later we heard that the terrorists stormed the building and they were being held hostage.”

The Holtzbergs offer visitors a number of different programmes and also provide kosher food. About 4,000 full-time emissary families direct more than 3,300 Chabad institutions around the world.

Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, founder and president of The Israel Project, said: “Just like the Passover Massacre in Netanya, Israel, this attack was by Muslim extremists who are targeting those who love freedom, tolerance and peace. While the victims were not sitting at their tables eating turkey, the timing of the attack was clearly done to capture news headlines as Americans celebrate one of their most important holidays.

“Indeed, Thanksgiving is a celebration of freedom and cooperation - the opposite of what these Muslim extremist terrorists want for the world. The world must work together to stop such threats no matter from where they stem.”

A spokesman for the Chabad movement in New York, Rabbi Zalman Shmotkin, said “It seems that the terrorists commandeered a police vehicle which allowed them easy access to the area of Chabad House and threw a grenade at a gas pump nearby.”

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