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Israel honours Indian nanny with honorary citizenship

Indian nanny Sandra Samuels, who risked her life to save an Israeli toddler Moshe Holtzberg from the clutches of terrorists during the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, has been conferred with an honorary citizenship by the Israeli government for her act of bravery.

world Updated: Sep 14, 2010 13:31 IST

Indian nanny Sandra Samuels, who risked her life to save an Israeli toddler Moshe Holtzberg from the clutches of terrorists during the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, has been conferred with an honorary citizenship by the Israeli government for her act of bravery.

At an emotional ceremony at the Interior Ministry in Jerusalem on Monday, a visibly moved Samuel, who arrived in Israel after the Mumbai attacks to take care of the two year old Moshe whose parents died in the attack, said, "I hope I will honour the citizenship and love Israel. I would give my life, heart and soul for Israel."

"I've been given love by all of Israel and I hope I will learn to love the country as much as I love Gabi and Rivki," Samuel said using the nicknames for Moshe's parents, Gavriel and Rivka.

Samuel, 45, a widow and a mother of two sons, was working for Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his wife Rivka, since their arrival in Mumbai in 2003 and took care of Moshe since his birth.

On November 26, 2008, two terrorists entered the narrow lane where the Jewish centre -- Chabad House, also known as Nariman House, situated in Colaba in south Mumbai, and the building turned into a war-zone for the next three days.

Hearing the cries of baby Moshe, Sandra wrapped him in her arms and rescued him in a dramatic fashion along with handyman-cum-cook Qazi Zakir Hussain alias Jackie.

Israel's Interior Minister Ellie Yishai described the life saving experience a truly "heart wrenching moment which still echoed in our hearts" offering Moshe a gift and candies.

"This is an important and moving moment and we should continue assisting Moishi and the family. Sandra, the nanny has taken Moishi at the hardest of times. It was a true heart-wrenching moment which echoed in our hearts. We want all the best for Moishi after the horrible experience he had," Yishai said.

Moshe's grandfather, Rabbi Shimon Rosenberg described Sandra a "righteous woman among nations", thanking Yishai for granting honorary citizenship to her.

"Sandra Samuel stepped into the fire and abyss and did not think of herself," Rosenberg said adding, "She saved Moishi from the fire and we as Jews must thank and respect her. It is also closure for Rivki and Gabi. I thank Minister Yishai for finding a special time to honour Sandra."

Several people in Israel had approached the top political leadership requesting to confer honorary citizenship on Sandra to enable her to live in Israel as a mark of gratitude for her courage in saving a Jewish boy.