Sunday marks the first new year commemoration by the Jewish community since the 26/11 attack on Nariman House. While a few who witnessed the incident are intermittently affected by memories, others including the head priest of the state’s oldest synagogue say that local Jews remain at a safe emotional distance from the event. On Sunday morning, synagogues will sound the shofar (horn), signalling the Jewish new year or Rosh Hashanah. Since the terrorist attack, synagogues in Mumbai and Thane have been given police protection.

Still, Sharon Galsurkar is unable to shake off the horrors of the night. “He was among the first to reach the site and help out the police, and later the Israeli team that arrived to investigate the incident,” says his friend Victor Sassoon. “Baby Moshe was placed in his custody for a few days until his grandparents flew down to fetch him.”

Like Solomon Sopher, managing trustee of the Keneseth Eliyahoo synagogue at Kala Ghoda, who does not travel, meet people or take phone calls on Sabbath, the Galsurkars are traditionalists who observe Sabbath and the run-up to New Year in quiet contemplation. “Last year’s events prey on their minds, and they will pray for the departed Israelis as well as baby Moshe,”’ feels Sassoon. As will the assembly of Jews at Shaar Harahamin or Gate of Mercy, the oldest synagogue in Maharashtra that is located at Samuel Street in south Mumbai.

However, there is a difference. Albert Isaac Talegawkar, who heads the synagogue, says, “We empathise with those who suffered, but we feel that foreigners, not Indian Jews, were the targets of the terrorist attack on Chabad House. There has never been an incident of anti-Semitism in the city. We live in harmony with our Muslim neighbours.”

As always, a special prayer will be sent up for prominent Indians like the president, prime minister, the chief justice of India as well as the governor of Maharashtra, as well as for the state of Israel. “This blessing is a norm at all special events,” says Talegawkar. “We pray for the Indian soldiers as well as the Israeli army. But the shadow of 26/11 does not weigh over the new year.” In March, when the blue synagogue of Keneseth Eliyahoo celebrated its 125th anniversary, trustee Sopher had echoed similar views.

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