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In an India of Extremes, More Commonality Than Differences

In an India of Extremes, More Commonality Than Differences

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Rabbi Israel Kozlovsky reading the megillah on Purim. He says that at the top of his list is to have the Nariman House—where Rabbi Gavriel and Rivkah Holtzberg were murdered with four other Jews in their Chabad House in 2008—up and running.
Rabbi Israel Kozlovsky reading the megillah on Purim. He says that at the top of his list is to have the Nariman House—where Rabbi Gavriel and Rivkah Holtzberg were murdered with four other Jews in their Chabad House in 2008—up and running.

For Chaya Kozlovsky, India is marked by extremes: extreme heat, extreme smells and extreme culture shock for the native Israeli. Add to that the seemingly extreme differences of those sitting around her first Sabbath in Mumbai, where she and her husband, Rabbi Israel Kozlovsky, are the new co-directors of the Chabad-Lubavitch center.

“There are American businessmen, Israeli backpackers, Belgian diamond dealers, a local from the Indian Jewish community, and the kosher supervisor from Monsey, New York—all of these extremes are sitting around our table,” she says.

The couple arrived less than two weeks ago to assist them with their Jewish needs.

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For the holiday of Purim an eclectic group of 60 gathered, and this past Shabbat there were 40 people. Individuals had to contact the center’s directors in advance to receive the location information, which for security reasons is kept secret.

For her part, Kozlovsky has connected with the local Jewish community, regular visitors to the country, and other Chabad students and rabbis who have rotated there to care for the Chabad center. The rabbi over the past few months learned how to ritually slaughter chickens, a necessity in a country with no kosher food infrastructure.

The rabbi says that soon they will restart weekly Jewish classes and yeshiva learning programs on Sundays for the local youth. Here he helps a local resident put on tefillin.
The rabbi says that soon they will restart weekly Jewish classes and yeshiva learning programs on Sundays for the local youth. Here he helps a local resident put on tefillin.

Other items will come from Israel, and travelers often bring food boxes into the country for the center.

The Kozlovskys are there for a good reason. “The community wants to grow in their Judaism,” she says. “The question is what is the best way to deliver it to them.”

They are working on strengthening the local Kenesset Israel synagogue, where Rabbi Kozlovsky reads from the Torah and leads Shabbat prayers when needed. He says he doesn’t feel so unusual walking in the streets of Mumbai in his distinctive Jewish clothing; after all, “you are not the only one who looks different.”

However, he adds, his attire isn’t made for the Mumbai weather. “It could be over 110 degrees, and all of a sudden it could start raining. My Sabbath clothes are destroyed, and already I need a new prayer shawl.”

The rabbi says that soon they will restart weekly Jewish classes and yeshiva learning programs on Sundays for the local youth. “It is a very hard here physically; spiritually, it is even tougher. We need to invest a lot of more energy into programs, and we hope to achieve great things.”

He says that at the top of his list is to have the Nariman House—where Rabbi Gavriel and Rivkah Holtzberg were murdered with four other Jews in their Chabad House in 2008—up and running.

Around their table at any given time these days, numerous languages can be heard by an eclectic group of people, yet the rabbi attests that something unites them all: “There is a such a blend of cultures; there is an interesting connection between everyone. Everyone realizes that there is much more that connects us than what separates us.”

“Here, they all dance together and sing together. This is what Jewish unity is.”



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Discussion (5)
March 16, 2013
Bnai Avraham Indians
Good to see the news of the re-starting of the synagogue in mumbai.
But i need to mention here that inspite of Psalms 51:15 - "Then will I teach transgressors Thy ways; and sinners shall return unto Thee", there is hardly any effort to spread God's knowledge among others to bring them back to Him.

Dear Yosef Morgan, good you brought out that point. AS an Indian who left Christianity recently and is on the verge of converting to Judaism, i am thrilled by that comparison. I had read somewhere that the word "Brahmin" (Hindu religious teaching class) are actually descendants of Abraham's other wives whom he sent "far east". My forefathers belonged to this group and even in christianity our family is mainly into full-time Bible teaching.

Though Brahm is believed to be the ultimate, supreme god, there are only two temples in India dedicated to him. I saw one in Guntur, in AP where i had gone to visit Mr Sadok Yacobi of Bene Ephraim.
Abraham Jos
bangalore
March 14, 2013
Chabad in India
Welcome to Rabbi Kozlovski in Mumbai. God Bless.
Dr. Moses Kolet
Mumbai, India
March 8, 2013
Kol Ha Kavod
B'H

Kol Ha Kovod and be safe....Hashem should envelop you.

Good Shabbos!

Yitzchok & Orit Cohen
Natick, MA
Orit Cohen
Natick, MA
chabadnatick.com
March 8, 2013
Chabad in India
I was in India for 5 weeks and returned to Israel a couple days before Purim. It was a fascinating experience for me to be in Pune for my Father's yurzheit. My father (A"H) was a Holocaust survivor and the only surving son of the Kotzk-Lukov Rebbe (HY"D). My Shobbos experience was hosted by a Chabad Rabbi and Rebitzin. Others at the table included Indian Jews from the B'nail Yisrael community, and Israelis studying at a nearby meditiation center. The common link of course was our Jewish neshamas. What an experience my father had watching this from the olam hanishamot: his only son teaching western medicine and pharmacology to Indian doctors during the week and learning Chassidic works with a Chabad couple in a large house in a beautiful neighborhood in Koreogon Park, Pune, India on Shabbos.

I really enjoyed being in India and felt the Indians were bnai Avraham avinu (via Ketura) and therefore spiritually closely related to Jews.
Yosef Morgan, MD
Israel and US
March 7, 2013
funeral
I was at Gavriel and Rivka's funeral in Kfar Chabad. Best of luck to the Kozlovskys and Nariman house.
Elisa
Washington, DC
chabadva.org
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