Mumbai, July 5 (IANS) As Prime Minister Narendra Modi is to meet Baby Moshe, the little boy who was orphaned in the 26/11 terror attack on the Chabad House here, the current Rabbi hopes the Prime Minister’s historic visit to Israel will help create awareness of the slain Rabbi’s vision for a better and peaceful world.
Moshe Holtzberg was two when Pakistani terrorists attacked Chabad House in the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks.
Moshe was rescued by his Indian nanny Sandra Samuel even as Pakistani terrorists brutally gunned down his young Jewish parents, Rabbi Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg, during the attack on the Chabad House in Nariman House, in Colaba during the November 26-28 2008 attacks.
Modi made it a point to invite Samuel for a meeting along with Moshe and his family members, which is scheduled for Wednesday afternoon.
“We are glad that Prime Minister Modi is meeting with Moshe and recognizing the sacrifice of his parents, an exceptional couple and our personal role models, to establish Chabad-Lubavitch here and their service to the Jewish people,” said the current Rabbi Israel Kozlovsky.
“We are humbled to be a part of, and to continue the holy work of Rabbi Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg, and are working diligently on actualizing the dream of a Memorial Museum at Nariman House. It is our hope that this historical visit and meeting will create awareness of this project, and the Rabbi’s vision for a better, more peaceful world,” Rabbi Kozlovsky told IANS in an email.
Now, 11 years old, the little Moshe was whisked off along with Samuel to Israel shortly after the traumatic 26/11 attack – which claimed the lives of another eight Israeli nationals. He has been brought up by his grandparents – Shimon and Yehudit Rosenberg – in the Land of Moses.
As a gesture of gratitude, Samuel was granted an honorary citizenship by the Israel government and conferred the highest civilian award given to non-Jews, ‘Righteous Gentile’, for protecting and saving Moshe from the terrorists.
After going to Israel in 2008 and tending to Moshe for another four years, Sameul is now working among disabled children at the Aleh Jerusalem Centre.
However, as she told local media, Samuel makes it a point to visit her darling ‘Sonu’ – her affectionate name for Moshe – travelling from Jerusalem to Afula by bus on weekends.
A widow, Samuels, 53, hails from Goa. She lost her husband John Samuel, a Keralite, to an undiagnosed illness. Her two sons Jackson, 34 and Martin, 27, continue to live in India.
That fateful Wednesday (November 26, 2008), Samuel heard gunshots resounding across the Chabad House and locked herself in a laundry room as she heard Rivka Holtzberg screaming.
Later, she said she heard little Moshe crying and calling for her and when emerged from her hiding place, she saw him, drenched in blood, crying besides his dead parents in a room upstairs.
Acting swiftly, Samuels grabbed Moshe and ran from the building. Later it was confirmed that his parents were killed in the terror strike.
Shortly after the funeral of the Holtzbergs, the Israeli authorities made arrangements to send Samuel and Moshe to Israel as a safety measure.
The Mumbai terror strikes, lasting 60 hours, led to the death of 166 persons, including security forces, police personnel and many foreigners. It left around 700 others injured. The 10 Pakistani terrorists struck at different locations in south Mumbai like five star hotels, a pub, the Jewish worship centre, the CSMT railway terminus and hospitals.
(Quaid Najmi can be reached at [email protected])