Synagogues fight terror shadow with floodlights

| November 20, 2009

Jewish establishments in city make walls taller, install CCTV cameras and floodlights in days leading to first anniversary of 26/11 attacks

Jewish establishments in the city are becoming increasingly alert in the days leading to the first anniversary of the 26/11 terror attacks.

Solomon Sopher, the president of the Baghdadi Jewish community and chairman and managing director of Sir Jacob Sassoon Trust, which manages three synagogues, two in Mumbai and one in Pune, said, about a month back, security agencies asked him to be extra careful.

"I read in the papers that terror suspect David Coleman Headley was found with a book titled How To Pray Like A Jew.

It makes me wonder how many people are unwittingly helping such elements and how vulnerable we still are," said Sopher, who lives a stone's throw from Shyam Niwas in Breach Candy, where Headley had allegedly lived.

"Our synagogues were advised to up security arrangements after 26/11 but we thought the worst was over.

Then, in October, we were rattled again, when we were warned that terrorists could attack Jewish establishment in Mumbai," said Sopher.

It is for this reason that officials rebuilding the now devastated Chabad House are tight lipped about where the new headquarters will be.

Sopher recalls how the shrine where Jews kept their sacred scrolls in a Pune synagogue was burnt mysteriously. "The neighbouring rooms did not catch fire.

The police said the fire was caused by a short circuit. Seventeen years later, all excuses have dried up," said Sopher.

While Rabbi Abraham Berkowitz, director of the Chabad Relief Fund, said they would rebuild a stronger and better centre in Mumbai 'than what already was', he refused to reveal where the new centre would be situated.

Berkowitz was speaking at a candlelight vigil at Nariman House, which housed the old Chabad centre that was attacked during the 26/11 terror attacks, on Tuesday.

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Category: Synagogue/Jewish Security

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