Netanyahu Meets Orphaned Survivor of 2008 Mumbai Attack on Chabad Center

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Netanyahu and Moshe Holtzberg, son of Rabbi Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg, who died in the 2008 Mumbai attack on a Chabad center.
Netanyahu and Moshe Holtzberg, son of Rabbi Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg, who died in the 2008 Mumbai attack on a Chabad center. Credit: Avi Ohayon/ GPO

MUMBAI - Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had an emotional encounter in Mumbai on Thursday with Moshe Holtzberg, the son of U.S. Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg, who was killed with his wife Rivka in the November 26, 2008 terror attack on the Mumbai Nariman (Chabad) Center.

"I'm excited to be here with you Moyshe, I see that you are growing well. You are eleven years old, almost a Bar Mitzvah boy, and later on when you make a family of your own you will invite me [to meet you] then," Netanyahu told Moshe at the ceremony.

"The people of Israel follow you all along your way and there's a reason for that. What happened here expressed multiple things; [the attack] expressed hatred of Israel and love of Israel - a love of Israel by your dear parents, may their memory be a blessing. A love of Israel by the Chabad mission here and in the whole world, which embraces the people of Israel and provides every Jew a home everywhere, including here in the heart of Mumbai in India," the premier continued.

Netanyahu can be seen in the picture warmly embracing the bespectacled 12-year-old at a ceremony marking a decade since the attack that changed Moshe's life.

Netanyahu and Moshe Holtzberg at the ceremony commemorating a decade since the attack that claimed the lives of Moshe's parents. Credit: Avi Ohayon / GPO

Netanyahu and Moshe toured the center, including the place where the terror attack took place and Moshe's childhood room. The two inaugurated a memorial spot that was set up where the boy's parents were killed. 

The premier is currently in India on a six-day visit marking the 25th anniversary of bilateral relations between Jerusalem and New Delhi. 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu embraces the boy Moshe Holtzberg, whose parents died in the 2008 attack no a Mumbai chabad center. Credit: Indranil Mukherjee

Netanyahu came to the religious Jewish center in Mumbai to meet with Holtzberg and participate in the memorial for the victims of the attack that claimed the lives of the boy's parents. Four other people in addition to the Holtzberg couple were killed in the attack.

Moshe, who was a two-year-old toddler at the time, was saved by his Indian nanny, Sandra Samuel, and the family's handyman and cook, Qazi Zakir Hussain. He was then moved to Israel, where he has been living with his maternal grandparents in Jerusalem.

The prime minister acknowledged the nanny's role in saving the boy's life in his speech at the ceremony, saying: "These terrible terrorists who to our sadness have claimed victims, did not claim the life of this boy because of a love of Israel by a wonderful woman- Sandra," 

Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg lived in the Chabad center and managed it. The center reopened in 2014 after it was shut down for years in the wake of the lethal attack.

Over the summer, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid an official visit to Israel. The monumental visit, which was the first ever by a sitting Indian premier, also included a moving meeting between Modi and the boy Moshe, the sole survivor of the attack in which six militants stormed the Jewish outreach center. Modi told the boy in their meeting in Israel that he could "come to India" anytime he wanted.

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