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.
In the weeks since the Mumbai terrorist attack, the Chabad movement has directed contributions from supporters primarily to two campaigns: One to aid the child whose emissary parents were slain, and another to rebuild the badly damaged outreach center and re-establish operations there, which could cost as much as $1 million, according to a Chabad estimate.
But at the same time, some Chabad leaders are acting on their own to secure funds and resources to make dozens of Chabad houses in far-flung outposts safer.