Nariman House

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Nariman House
2008 Mumbai terror attacks Nariman House front view 3.jpg
Front view of the Nariman House a week after the 26/11 terrorist attack
Nariman House is located in Mumbai
Nariman House
Location within Mumbai
2008 Mumbai terror attacks Nariman House front view 3.jpg
Front view of the Nariman House a week after the 26/11 terrorist attack
Former namesNariman House
Alternative namesChabad house
General information
Architectural styleModern
LocationColaba, Mumbai, India
Address5 Hormusji Street, Colaba
Coordinates18°54′59″N 72°49′40″E / 18.916517°N 72.827682°E / 18.916517; 72.827682
Elevation17 m (56 ft)
OwnerChabad India Trust

The Nariman House, designated as a Chabad house (Hebrew: בית חב"דBeit Chabad),[1][2][3] is a five-storey landmark in the Colaba area of South Mumbai, Maharashtra, India.[1] The building was home to a Chabad house, a Jewish outreach centre run by Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg, who had owned the building since around 2006. The centre had an educational center, a synagogue, offered drug prevention services,[4][5][6][7][8] and a hostel.[9][10]

The building was attacked during the November 2008 Mumbai attacks and six of its occupants, including Holtzberg and his wife, who was six months pregnant, were killed. Their two-year-old son Moshe survived the attack after being rescued by his Indian nanny, Sandra Samuel, and Zakir Hussain.

Chabad House[edit]

Template:Chabad sidebar The Chabad house, located at 5 Hormusji Street, Colaba,[11] is one of eight synagogues in Mumbai[12] and has been described as the epicentre of the Jewish community in the city.[13]

It is one of 4,000 such houses in 73 countries, typically run by husband-and-wife couples.[14] In 2003, this Chabad House, the first in Mumbai, was opened by Rabbi Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg, newly married and run by them.[14] It catered to Israelis who are on their way to "party hotspots" such as Goa and Rajasthan,[15] in addition to the city's local Jewish community and traveling Jewish businessmen.[16] The Holtzbergs also ran a synagogue and taught Torah classes, in addition to the rabbi conducting weddings for local Jewish couples. It is the Chabad headquarters for Mumbai.[16] Gavriel (born 1979, raised in Brooklyn, New York) and Rivka (born 1980 in Afula, Israel) Holtzberg came to Mumbai in 2003 after completing a mission in Thailand.[17]

Three flights a week bring hundreds of Israeli travelers from Israel to Mumbai and in an interview Holtzberg said he understood the nature of their needs. The young rabbi, who was born in Israel but grew up in Brooklyn, said that they "need relief from the army, from work, from real life".[15] He said, "they come here to do everything the army didn't allow them to do. Their shoes had to be polished and tied—here they wear sandals. They had to cut their hair—here they grow their hair long."[15]

In addition, "Jews from all nationalities stopped there—primarily Israelis, but also those from Singapore and other places. It was almost like a second home to them," said Elijah Jacob, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee's country manager for India. "Our country director used to say it was like a second home to him because of all of the Jews there on Shabbat."[12]

Gavriel also helped with some of the local synagogues. He helped them gather donations, do fund-raising for the synagogue T'feret Israel, in central Mumbai in Jacobs Circle, and helped build a mikvah there. Also, he was officially a shochet, making chickens available to the local Jewish community, making challah for the community, and the couple was "available for the community," there to answer Halakhic principles of the local community.[12]

Chabad officials said they were certain the Mumbai house would reopen, and within hours of news of the Holtzbergs' deaths, young Chabad couples from around the world offered to move to Mumbai to continue their work.[14]


These are the services this Chabad House offered.[18]

  • Israeli center
  • Kitchen koshering
  • BHARAT milap
  • Hospital visitation
  • Prison visitation
  • Prison chaplaincy
  • Regular classes
  • Marriage preparation
  • Medical services
  • Women's group
  • Food package distribution
  • Humanitarian aid
  • Drug prevention

2008 Mumbai Attacks[edit]

street in which Nariman House is located

Nariman House was seized and attacked during the November 2008 Mumbai attacks.[20][21] At around 21:45, on Wednesday, 26 November,[5] two attackers named Babar Imran and Nasir (the oldest in the group of 9 at 28) launched an attack on the centre.[22] Newscasters[who?] were calling it the "final assault".[23] The building is near the Leopold Cafe, another establishment attacked during the strike. However, a later report alleged that Nariman House was actually the main target of the series of attacks and the rest of the targets were only to amplify the effect.[24]

Initially it was reported that six Israeli Jews were being held hostage.[20] Later, Chabad spokesman in Israel, Moni Ender, said that there were at least eight Israelis inside the house, including Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his wife, Rivka.[23][25] The rabbi's two-year-old son Moshe was rescued by his nanny,[25] Sandra Samuel, who had worked for the centre for the previous five years.[26] The hostages were allegedly tortured.[27] Some of the victims had been bound.[28]

It was reported that gunmen fired indiscriminately towards those present.[20] Late on 27 November, unnamed Maharashtra government officials said that eight hostages had been released.[26][29][30] Later, Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said that the eight people seen near Chabad House were not Jewish hostages but local Indians from a home in the same compound.[4] Early on 28 November a large blast was heard at the centre as fighting continued,[31] even though other sources were reporting that the building was under the control of Indian special forces.[4]

During the siege U.S. Chabad official Rabbi Levi Shemtov talked with one of the attackers on Holtzberg's cell phone.[32] The FBI and other negotiation experts helped guide him through the process, which included around five phone calls.[32][33] Having to find an Urdu speaker to speak with him, they were unable to directly speak to any of the hostages, but Shemtov did say he heard the voice of one woman screaming in English, "please help immediately."[32]

Shortly before dawn,[34] Indian special forces began an attack on Nariman House that lasted until after sundown. The operation began when 22 NSG Commandos rappelled out from an Indian Air Force Mi-17 helicopter on the roof of the building. NSG Commandos were in position in the adjacent buildings to provide cover fire to the assault team if needed. Commandos entered the building from the top and two loud blasts were heard followed by heavy gunfire. Most of the operation was broadcast live on television as news footage showed troops abseiling from a helicopter into the building and soldiers on the ground closing in.[35] Initially it was reported that five hostages[36] were killed, but it was later upgraded to six deaths,[37][38] eight by Saturday morning[38] after two missing Israelis made contact with the Israeli Foreign Ministry.[39] When the raid ended at sundown everyone inside the building was dead,[32] including the rabbi and his wife.[40] An Indian commando, Gajendra Singh Bisht, was killed during the operation. According to ZAKA members,[clarification needed] at least one hostage, Holtzberg, might have been killed in the crossfire when the commandos moved in; this was rejected by government authorities as stories and irresponsible comments.[41]

Some of the other hostages were killed by the attackers on the first night and the following day.[39] Rivka Holtzberg and Yocheved Orpaz had been killed many hours before Nariman House was retaken.[42]

A handout provided by Indian police identified the two attackers killed at Nariman House as Nasir (alias Abu Umar) and Babar Imaran.[43][44]


The following is a list of the civilians who died:[28][38][39][45]

Name Age Nationality
Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg 29 United States Brooklyn, United States (and dual Israel Israeli citizenship)
Rebbetzin Rivka Holtzberg 28 Israel Afula, Israel
Bentzion Kruman 26 Israel Bat Yam, Israel (and dual United States US citizenship)
Rabbi Leibish Teitelbaum 37 United States Brooklyn, United States
Yoheved Orpaz 62 Israel Givatayim, Israel
Norma Shvarzblat Rabinovich 50  Mexico


  • Chabad-LubavitchMerkos L'Inyonei Chinuch, the educational arm of Chabad-Lubavitch released a statement that read: "Gabi and Rivky Holtzberg made the ultimate sacrifice. As emissaries to Mumbai, Gabi and Rivky gave up the comforts of the West in order to spread Jewish pride in a corner of the world that was a frequent stop for throngs of Israeli tourists. Their Chabad House was popular among the local community, as well as with visiting business people. For five years, they ran a synagogue and Torah classes, and helped people dealing with drug addiction and poverty. Their selfless love will live on with all the people they touched. We will continue the work they started."[40]


In 2018 the Nariman House was renamed in Nariman Light House. Ten years after the Mumbai Attacks, a memorial was opened at Nariman House, to commemorate the victims. The first phase was to place a plaque on the building's roof, listing all the names of the victims. In the second phase, the entire floor of the fifth floor, in which Rabbi Gavirel lived with his wife Rivka and son Moshe, was painted white. It should look like it was 10 years before the attack.[46][47]

See also[edit]


  1. 1.0 1.1 "The latest on Mumbai areas under attack". CNN. 28 November 2008. Retrieved 28 November 2008.
  2. At Chabad in NY, an agonized limbo... and prayer[permanent dead link]
  3. The Hindu
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Horovitz, David; Matthew Wagner (27 November 2008). "10 hostages reportedly freed from Mumbai Chabad House". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 27 November 2008.[permanent dead link]
  5. 5.0 5.1 BBC: Jewish centre seized in Mumbai
  6. J'lem Post: Powerful explosion reported at Chabad House in Mumbai[permanent dead link]
  7. Tracking the Mumbai Attacks
  8. Ynet reporters (27 November 2008). "Terrorists seize Chabad offices in Mumbai". Ynet. Retrieved 27 November 2008.
  9. LA Times
  10. "Tehelka". Archived from the original on 1 December 2008. Retrieved 1 December 2008.
  11. "Chabad of India". Archived from the original on 24 July 2008. Retrieved 27 November 2008.
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 JTA Archived 18 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  13. Nariman to house of cards
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 New York Times
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 Israelis Invade India "Dikla Kadosh" 17 May 2006 Archived 1 December 2008 at the Wayback Machine
  16. 16.0 16.1 CNN
  17. "Chabad: Holtzberg couple killed in Mumbai". Ynet. 28 November 2008. Retrieved 28 November 2008.
  18. Chabad-Lubavitch of Mumbai – Mumbai, India. Retrieved 17 August 2013.
  19. Mumbai victims' son searches for mother
  20. 20.0 20.1 20.2 Yediot Ahronot: Report: 6 Israelis held hostage in Mumbai
  21. Mumbai terror kills 65[permanent dead link]
  22. Fear for lives of Jewish hostages at Mumbai Chabad center
  23. 23.0 23.1 Jpost[permanent dead link]
  24. "Nariman House, not Taj, was the prime target on 26/11". Daily News and Analysis. 5 January 2009. Retrieved 5 January 2009.
  25. 25.0 25.1 Parents of Chabad emissary's wife 'praying for salvation'
  26. 26.0 26.1 "'I just grabbed the baby and ran,' says Mumbai Chabad employee". Archived from the original on 7 December 2008. Retrieved 27 November 2008.
  27. Mumbai terror attacks: And then they came for the Jews – Times Online
  28. 28.0 28.1 Jewish Center Is Stormed, and 6 Hostages Die The New York Times (28 November 2008)
  29. Several hostages reported freed from Chabad center
  30. Holtzberg toddler asking for his mother
  31. Blast heard at Chabad center
  32. 32.0 32.1 32.2 32.3 Fox News
  33. COL Live: Report: U.S. Shaliach Spoke to Terrorist
  34. Times Online: Commandos abseil onto Jewish centre
  35. BBC: "Indian forces storm Jewish centre"
  36. "Rabbi, wife among Mumbai terror deaths". CNN. 27 November 2008. Retrieved 27 November 2008.
  37. NYT
  38. 38.0 38.1 38.2 2 more bodies found at Jewish center in Mumbai
  39. 39.0 39.1 39.2 JPost | French-language news from Israel, the Middle East & the Jewish World[permanent dead link]. (13 August 2013). Retrieved 17 August 2013.
  40. 40.0 40.1 Runyan, Joshua; Moti Seligson (28 November 2008). "UPDATE: Mumbai-Based Rabbi and Wife Killed in Terrorist Attacks". Retrieved 28 November 2008.
  41. State angry at Zaka's Mumbai 'meddling'[permanent dead link]
  42. The Globe and Mail. Toronto Archived from the original on 3 December 2008. {{cite news}}: Missing or empty |title= (help) Archived 7 February 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  43. The National Post, Wednesday 10 December 2008, p.A13
  44. Pakistan arrests suspected mastermind of Mumbai attacks Los Angeles Times, 10 December 2008
  45. Warren Kozak, Remembering the Terror in Mumbai The Wall Street Journal
  46. Shaikh, Mustafa (29 November 2018). "Nariman House to be turned into memorial for all 26/11 victims". India Today. Retrieved 4 June 2019.
  47. "In Memoriam: Plaque For 26/11 Victims Comes Up at Mumbai's Nariman House". Retrieved 4 June 2019.

External links[edit]

Template:Chabad Template:Hostels

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