Half asleep from his late-night travels to Mumbai, Chaim Zaklos trailed groggily behind an energetic Gavriel Holtzberg and suddenly found himself aboard a wooden motorboat, on an early spring morning of 2006. Filled with 150 ferry passengers and zero life jackets, the vessel rumbled away from the Gateway of India and chugged through a predawn Mumbai Harbor for about an hour, as the sun rose over their destination — the town of Alibag.
Freezing rain pattered against the dusty windowpanes of 770 Eastern Parkway last Sunday afternoon as frenzied staffers hurried up and down the twisted stairwell that leads to the Chabad.org office in Crown Heights. Inside, writers and editors of the movement’s popular Web site looked for new information on the unfolding tragedy in Mumbai, India. Their reddened eyelids were peeled back in exhaustion and their wrinkled tzitzit dangled from untucked white button-downs, as they munched on stale scrambled eggs and drank flat bottled soda to stay awake.