With 26/11 survivor Moshe at Chabad House, tough Israel PM gets emotional

Mumbai, Jan 18: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday visited the Chabad House here along with Moshe Holtzberg, who as a two-year-old was orphaned in the carnage there during the 2008 terror attack, and announced plans to make it a "Living Memorial".

Sporting the 'Kippah,', the trademark Jewish small brimless cloth cap, Netanyahu was warmly welcomed by the present Rabbi Israel Kozlovsky, his wife Chaya Kozlovsky, co-directors of Chabad House, and other officials, in the afternoon where he came to pay homage to the victims of the terror strikes.

The bespectacled Moshe, now 11, also sporting the 'Kippah' and a dark suit, had an emotional 'reunion' with the Israel Prime Minister, as his Indian nanny and saviour Sandra Samuel and grandparents flanked them in a small room in the Chabad House, in Nariman House, Colaba.

Natanyahu warmly held onto both Moshe and Samuel, flanked on his left and right side respectively, as they posed for the paparazzi.

Moshe's paternal grandparents - Nachman Holtzberg and Frieda Holtzberg, and maternal grandparents - Shimon Rosenberg and and Yehudit Rosenberg, besides his uncle Moshe Holtzberg smiled as the young Moshe read out a brief welcome speech for the PM.

All through the solemn but emotion-free event, Netanyahu was seen constantly smiling, and speaking to little Moshe, most of times with his arms around the boy's shoulder.

He also spoke freely and listened attentively to Moshe's nanny Samuel, standing beside him, and put his arms around her shoulder too.

In a brief address in Hebrew, Netanyahu thanked Moshe for hosting him and taking him around his residence inside Chabad House where he lived as a toddler.

"The terrorists could not get to the (then) two-year old Moshe due to the love of his nanny Sandra. Your parents showed love to people, welcomed all to the Chabad House, provided for every Jew a home," he added.

He termed the Chabad House as "a unique merge between the loving Israeli people, humans and hatred towards Israelis and Israel is known for salvation".

The Jewish people have witnessed lot of challenges in the past, but with God's help, they overcame all, they are living and will continue to live forever, Netanyahu said.

This was the first-ever visit by any high ranking Israeli dignitary to Chabad House, which reopened after repairs in 2014, and Netanyahu and Moshe announced plans to convert a part of the Nariman House (where Chabad House is situated) into "Living Memorial".

The proposed Living Memorial is likely to include rooms on the fifth floor of the building, where Moshe and his parents used to live, and a small terrace garden, while the fourth floor would be converted into a museum.

Prior to his arrival in Chabad House, Netanyahu paid homage to the memorial of 26/11 victims in the Hotel Taj Mahal Palace, which was one of the targeted sites, and where the visiting delegation is staying. Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis was present alongside.

The Chabad House was one of the targeted sites of the brutal 26/11, 2008 Mumbai terror strikes in which the two-year-old Moshe's young parents - Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and Rivka were gunned down.

Seven others, mostly Israeli nationals, were also killed as Pakistani gunmen opened indiscriminate fire and laid siege to the Chabad House for more than 40 hours.

Later, Samuel and the baby Moshe were taken to Israel where they have been living since the past 10 years, before coming to India for their first visit to Chabad House since the tragedy this year.

The 2008 terror attack lasted for 60 hours and left a total of 166 dead in different parts of south Mumbai, besides nine Pakistani terrorists who were killed and one - Ajmal Kasab - was captured alive, tried and hanged.



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