Saving Moshe Holtzberg

Independent on Sunday:

This is Moshe Holtzberg, the orphan of the Mumbai massacre. He is the son of the rabbi at the city's Jewish centre. Both his parents were murdered by terrorists last week, and he owes his life to his nanny. Last night she told her dramatic story.

Moshe, who turned two this week, is in the care of his mother's parents after his nanny, Sandra Samuel, rushed him to safety while militants roamed the Jewish centre where the family lived and worked. "When the baby emerged with the nanny, he had bloodstains on him," said Benjamin Isaac of the Indian Jewish Federation. "Thankfully it wasn't his blood. But we knew someone's blood had already been spilled."

On Wednesday, two gunmen had stormed the six-storey Nariman House, which housed the centre in Mumbai's Colaba area, close to the ritzy hotels and railway station that bore the brunt of a string of attacks by heavily armed militants.

They took eight people hostage, including the family of Israeli-born Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg, 29, who arrived in Mumbai in 2003 to run a synagogue and Torah classes as part of the Chabad-Lubavitch Movement.

Ms Samuel, who was on the first floor of the building when the gunmen arrived, locked herself in a room in a desperate attempt to stay alive. "The whole night I heard gunshots and loud blasts," she said in a statement to police. "Next morning it was quiet for a while, when I heard the baby crying." Ms Samuel quietly unbolted the door, and went up to the second floor where she found Moshe crying next to four people lying motionless on the ground. She picked him up and dashed out.


At a police station on Thursday, Moshe sat clutching a grimy doll, surrounded by Jewish volunteers, while Ms Samuel described her ordeal.


Sandra Samuel's bravery saved a life. The inhumanity of the terrorist is in sharp contrast with her values. Their culture of death, her culture of life tell the story of Mumbai.

The Jerusalem Post says Israel is considering honoring Samuel as a "righteous gentile." Israel's foreign minister is arranging a visit for her.


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