26/11 Memorial: Baby Moshe & Netanyahu revisit horror and hope 


More than nine years ago, when terrorists opened fire at Nariman House, it was a miraculous escape for two-year-old ‘Baby Moshe’ who was rescued by her Indian nanny Sandra Samuel. He has, since then, come to represent a story of tragedy, love and hope, marking an emotional connect between India and Israel. It was a moment of joy when the Jewish Chabad House, popularly known as Nariman House, hosted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and eleven-year-old Moshe Holtzberg for the unveiling of a state-of-the-art Living Memorial to commemorate the victims of the 26/11 Mumbai terror mayhem.

“What happened here represents the polar opposites of love and hate, the hatred perpetrated by the terrorists, but it also expressed tremendous love. The love of your parents Gabi and Rivky to you Moshe, and the love that is expressed by the Chabad House here in Mumbai and the love that is expressed by the embracing and loving attitude of the Chabad emissaries around the world which embraces and provides a loving home for every Jew around the world,” Mr Netanyahu told Moshe, who was accompanied by his paternal grandparents, Nachman Holtzberg and Frieda Holtzberg, maternal grandparents, Shimon Rosenberg and Yehudit Rosenberg, and uncle Moshe Holtzberg. His Indian nanny, who was awarded the title of ‘Righteous Gentile’ by Israel as the highest award presented to non-Jews, was also present at the occasion. Moshe, who now lives with his grandparents in the Israeli city of Afula, also read out a welcome speech for the Israeli prime minister.

Still bearing the bullet marks, Nariman House was where Moshe’s parents Rabbi Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg lived.

Mr Netanyahu also unveiled a plaque in memory of the Chabad-Lubavitch emissaries. The Memorial, which is being built by the Chabad Trust of India, will also include the Holtzbergs’ apartment and the floors where the carnage took place. Expected to be open to visitors on November 26, 2018, coinciding with the 10th anniversary of the 2008 Mumbai attack, the Memorial is designed to inspire people of all faiths and backgrounds to relentlessly work towards building peace.

“The Living Memorial will not only be a fitting tribute to the victims who fell prey to the bullets of the terrorists, it will inspire the belief that every individual has the ability and responsibility to make the world a better place,” said Rabbi Israel Kozlovsky, in-charge of Nariman House.

Around 30 leaders of the Jewish community from Mumbai, Pune and Ahmedabad and Panvel met Mr Netanyahu. “We told him we feel happy and safe in India. Jews get homely treatment here and every opportunity in school, college and in the private sector,” said Moses Elijah, secretary of Beth El Synagogue in Panvel.

(Pritha Mahanti contributed inputs for this article)

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