'Baby Moshe': The boy who survived 26/11
- Moshe Holtzberg was two years old during the terror attack in Mumbai on November 26, 2008
- His parents, Rabbi Gavriel Holtberg and Rivika, ran a Jewish outreach centre at the Nariman House in Colaba
- Moshe was one of three survivors from the attack at Nariman House
Moshe Tzvi Holtzberg was just two years old when Ajmal Kasab and nine other Lashkar-e-Taiba militants carried out a series of terror attacks in Mumbai from November 26, 2008, killing at least 166 people and wounding hundreds others over three days.
His parents, Rabbi Gavriel Holtberg and Rivika, were the Chabad emissaries to India, and ran a Jewish outreach centre at the Nariman House, a landmark building in South Mumbai’s Colaba.
Baby Moshe, as he has been popularly known since the attacks, was one of the three survivors of the attack at Nariman House, including his saviour and nanny Sandra Samuel and a cook.
On that fateful night, two gunmen stormed the building - later renamed as the Nariman Light House - and killed six people, including both Moshe’s parents. During the attack, Samuel had taken refuge on the first floor of the six-storey building, and later heard Moshe’s cries.
She found the toddler lying next to his dead parents on the second floor and fled from the building. Pictures of her holding Moshe close to her chest and running from the building grabbed worldwide attention.
Speaking to news agency PTI a decade after the incident, Samuel recalled the “horrific ordeal”.
“It was a miracle that we came out alive from there. I believe God has his own plans for everybody,” she said, adding that memories of the attack made her sick after her return to Israel, leading to a week-long hospitalisation.
An Indian-Israeli national and the mother of two sons, Samuel said that Moshe continues to remain scarred by the incident and is scared of the dark. “He doesnt say anything. But in the night, he wants all lights on. He is very afraid of darkness. He can’t sleep even in a dim light.”
Moshe returned to Mumbai in January 2018, along with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, when the two unveiled a memorial to commemorate the attack.
He celebrated his ‘bar mitzvah’ in November 2019, a traditional Jewish coming-of-age ceremony for boys and Prime Minister Narendra Modi wrote a letter to extend his wishes on the occasion.
“Shalom and Namaste from India! I am very happy to learn about your bar mitzvah. As you make this important transition and cross a significant landmark in the journey of your life, the courage of Sandra and prayers of the people of India will continue to bless you for a long, healthy and successful life,” PM Modi wrote.
"Your story continues to inspire everyone. It is one of miracle and hope overcoming tragedy and immeasurable loss."