Almost a decade after he narrowly survived the November 26, 2008, Mumbai terror attacks, Moshe Holtzberg arrived in Mumbai recently.
Then a toddler, now the 11-year-old bespectacled Moshe, sporting a T-shirt and shorts, landed at Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (CSIA) along with his grandparents, with whom he grew up in Israel.
Appearing a tad bewildered by the presence of a large media posse outside the CSIA, he kept close to his grandmother, with his grandfather following along. At the media's insistence, Moshe managed to say: Shalom... Bahut khush (Greetings, very happy)". The boy's grandfather, Shimon Rosenberg, who sports a snow-white beard, said,
I want to pray in Nariman House, where Moshe's parents were killed... Moshe likes the people of India and loves the country. He wants to thank Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Along with visiting the Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, Moshe is likely to visit the Chabad House, located in Nariman House building in Colaba, one of the targets of 10 Pakistani extremists during the Mumbai terror strikes.
Moshe's parents — Rabbi Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg — were shot down in the indiscriminate firing in Chabad House. Arriving in Mumbai in 2003, the Holtzbergs ran the Chabad-Lubavitch Jewish outreach centre serving the tiny local Jewish community and visiting Israelis in the city, which was shut down after the terror strikes and reopened only in 2014.
When they were felled by terror bullets, the US-born Rabbi Gavriel was 29 and his Israel-born wife Rivka was 28. Unknown to them, their toddler son Moshe, then barely two, was protected and saved by his Indian nanny, Sandra Samuel, and later they were taken to Israel. As a gesture of goodwill for saving little Moshe's life, Samuel was later granted honorary citizenship of Israel and continues to live and work there.
With inputs from IANS