26/11: The day when nanny saved baby Moshe from terrorists at Mumbai’s Nariman House
The centre, run by the Chabad-Lubavitch movement, served Kosher meals – cooked according to Jewish dietary norms –and provided religious services for visiting Jews and Mumbai’s small native Jewish community.Updated: Jan 17, 2018 11:12 IST
On November 26, 2008, two terrorists stormed Mumbai’s Jewish centre in a building called Nariman House, in Colaba.
The centre, run by the Chabad-Lubavitch movement, served Kosher meals – cooked according to Jewish dietary norms –and provided religious services for visiting Jews and Mumbai’s small native Jewish community.
It was evening and the visitors had left. The centre’s directors, Rabbi Gavreil Holtzberg and his wife Rivka, were on the second floor of the building. The terrorists entered the four-storey building, taking hostage its residents, including the Holtzbergs and their two-year baby Moshe.
Among the others in the building was Sandra Samuel, a Mumbai resident who worked as a housekeeper for the Holtzbergs and looked after Moshe. Hearing the gunfire Samuel hid in a room on the first floor which housed the kitchen. After one close encounter with one of the terrorists, she and the family cook, Qazi Zakir Hussain, managed to hide from the terrorists on the first night even as she tried to reach the Holtzberg family.
She told journalists that around afternoon on Thursday she heard the voice of Moshe calling out her for her. She came out of the room and crawled up the debris-filled staircase to the upper floor. She found the child crying, standing between his parents, who were lying on the floor. The terrorists were probably upstairs and she picked up the baby and ran downstairs along with Zakir Hussain. They ran down the narrow street into the main road, where the police and crowds were waiting.
On Friday, November 28, when commandos of the National Security Guards ended their operation, the terrorists were killed, but five hostages, including the Holtzbergs, were dead.
“I kept dialing on their cellphone every second since the moment I heard of them being kept hostage,” said Shnior Kup, a family friend of the Rabbi had told an HT correspondent. When Kup spoke to this newspaper, he did not know whether the Rabbi was alive, but the baby was safe. “The baby is under my care.”
Moshe now lives with his grandparents in Afula, a town in northern Israel. Samuel, who was given Israeli citizenship, accompanied him to Israel.
First Published: Jan 16, 2018 20:34 IST