The Nariman House, that was under siege during the 26/11 terror attacks, is being converted into a ‘living memorial’ dedicated to those killed in the carnage.
A formal announcement on the setting up of the memorial will be made during the Mumbai visit of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this week.
Rabbi Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg, the Jewish couple who served as directors at the Nariman House, also known as the Chabad House, were killed along with six others when the place came under attack by 10 Pakistani terrorists during the November 2008 attacks.
The couple ran a cultural and outreach centre for the Chabad-Lubavitch movement in the five-storey landmark building in south Mumbai’s Colaba area.
The couple’s son Moshe Holtzberg, who was two years old then and was saved by his Indian nanny, will return to the Nariman House this week for the first time since the tragedy struck the family more than nine years ago.
The memorial, being set up by Jewish organisation Chabad-Lubavitch, will be formally announced at an event during Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit here on Thursday, Rabbi Israel Kozolovasky, who heads the Nariman House at present, said.
The “living memorial” has been designed to educate and inspire people of all faiths to act for the betterment of themselves, their communities and the world, he said.
“The memorial at the Nariman House will put the spotlight on the lives of Rabbi Gavriel and his wife and the ideals and values that catalysed them to pursue their lives for the benefit of the humanity,” he said.
The memorial will include the apartment where the Holtzbergs lived, as well as the sites where the killings happened, he said.
The terrace of the Nariman House will be turned into a garden where names of all the victims will be engraved, he said.
“On the terrace, much remembered by people around the world for the images of a helicopter hovering around and the NSG commandos landing (during the terror attack), there will be a reflection garden that will focus on and recognise all the victims of 26/11,” the official said.
A portion of the fifth floor, destroyed by bullets in the terror attack, will be kept as it is, he said.
“The memorial will also include the apartment on the fifth floor where Rabbi Gavriel and his wife used to reside with baby Moshe – who was barely two years old then,” he said.
As a part of the memorial, the fourth floor will house a museum, he said, adding that the Chabad Trust plans to keep the place open to visitors from India and the world.
He said an Israeli designer, who is a specialist in designing “experience centres” across the world, has been asked to work on the project.
Asked to comment on Moshe, now 11, Kozolovasky said the child has a emotional connect with the country.
“The first thing that he said he wants to see is the Nariman House followed by the Gateway of India,” he said.
“Moshe definitely has a huge emotional with both India and Mumbai. The Nariman House was the place where he got the last hug from his mother and the last kiss from his father,” he said.
“This was the place where he last heard their voices. This boy has become one of the faces of the 26/11 attack.
We all are excited about his visit,” he added.
He said the Chabad Trust is working on a detailed plan to raise funds for the memorial.
“We are exploring all options to make the funds available for this memorial. After all, it will reflect the spirit of Mumbai and India, which has successfully fought terror on many occasions,” Kozolovasky said.