It’s exactly five years since the 3-day terrorist siege destroyed Chabad House, but if anything, the spirit of the small Jewish community in the city has only grown stronger. With the erstwhile religious centre in the middle of an ambitious renovation that will allow it to house a speciality cuisine restaurant open to all faiths, a multi-purpose community hall and a museum in the memory of the 26/11 victims, Israeli Consul General Jonathan Miller (pictured) added another note of inclusivity by not only throwing open the doors of his home to celebrate Hannukah, but also inviting a smattering of non-Jewish friends to join in. Hannukah is a festival of lights symbolised by a candelabra that celebrates the victory of good over evil, described to us as “a Jewish version of Diwali but also a lot like Christmas”.
Expectedly, most of the Jewish families arrived there with their children – most under 10 years of age - who were squealing with delight as they were presented gifts and bags of cookies and chocolates. Apparently in olden times children used to be given tiny bags of coins, but now it’s mostly coin-shaped chocolates. The memories of Rabbi Gavriel Noach Holtzberg and his wife Rivka seemed to come flooding back in the room as the symbolic eighth candle was lit by the new Rabbi, Israel Kozlovsky, who chanted a silent prayer for dispelling the darkness and bringing peace. Amen.