Prince Michael of Kent, a cousin of British monarch Queen Elizabeth II, toured the heavily damaged site of Chabad-Lubavitch of Mumbai, India, in a gesture of solidarity and in support of the rebuilding effort following the Nov. 26, 2008 terrorist attack there and at tourist centers throughout the city. At the end of his Wednesday afternoon visit, he presented Rabbi Avraham Berkowitz, director of the Chabad Mumbai Relief Fund, with a formal pledge of $100,000 on behalf of the DVK Foundation, a United Kingdom charity he serves as patron.
During a tour of the center’s six floors with Israeli Consul Gen. Orna Sagiv, the prince stopped to examine bullet holes and other damage left behind by gunmen when they took control of the Chabad House and murdered its directors, Rabbi Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg, and four of their guests, said Berkowitz. He showed particular interest in a kitchen, marveling that in past years, its food fed thousands of visiting Jewish tourists, Israeli backpackers, and members of the local community, and that Rivka Holtzberg would bake bread there to hand out to local Indians living in poverty.
The prince expressed the wish that his pledge would help restore the kitchen, and the Chabad House, to its former glory.
Berkowitz said that the prince noticed a picture of the Holtzbergs beside a portrait of the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory, and inquired about the self-sacrifice that has led thousands of emissaries to strengthen Jewish life in locations across the globe.
“In the 60 years since the Rebbe assumed leadership of Chabad-Lubavitch,” Berkowitz told the royal, “Chabad Houses like this one have kept their doors open for everyone in need.”
“I am pleased to be a part of the good that is emerging from this terrible darkness,” said the prince, a grandson of the previous monarch, King George V. “Chabad is known globally for its spiritual and humanitarian work.”
Before leaving, the prince, a patron of the Russo-British Chamber of Commerce and a qualified interpreter of Russian, remarked that his great-great-grandfather was Czar Alexander II of Russia at the time that the Rebbe’s ancestors were working tirelessly to strengthen Russian Jewry. Noting that things had come full circle, he told Berkowitz that he would convey the rabbi’s greetings to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev at their next meeting.