The 11-year-old son of Chabad emissaries who were murdered in a 2008 jihadist rampage in Mumbai told visiting Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi that he loves India and wants to return to complete the mission of his slain parents, during an emotional meeting Wednesday.
Modi met with Moshe Holtzberg, pulling the boy close for an embrace and telling him that he would always be welcome in India.
Moshe’s nanny, Sandra Samuel, escaped from the Nariman Chabad House carrying 2-year-old Moshe in November 2008 after the building came under siege. Four Jewish victims were killed, including Moshe’s parents, Rabbi Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg. Samuel has remained in Israel and was at the meeting as well.
The terror attacks on several Mumbai sites over four days by an Islamist Pakistani group, including two hotels and the train station, left 166 dead and hundreds injured.
Modi’s encounter with the boy came during a three-day visit to Israel this week that has been described by Israeli and Indian officials as “historic.”
At their meeting at a hotel in Tel Aviv, Modi immediately embraced Moshe, pulling him close and cupping his head against his chest before inviting him to come back to India.
The boy, accompanied by his grandparents who are raising him, welcomed the Indian premier to Israel.
Wearing a lapel pin with Indian and Israeli flags, he read out a message in halting English, telling Modi, “I hope I will be able to visit Mumbai, and when I get older, live there. I will be the director of our Chabad House” in place of his murdered father. “With God’s help, this is my answer.”
“Dear Mr. Modi,” Holtzberg concluded, “I love you and your people in India.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu then turned to the boy and said, “Moshe, Prime Minister Modi invited me to come to India. You will come with me to Mumbai.”
Moshe was accompanied during the visit by both sets of grandparents, Nahman and Freida Holtzberg and Shimon and Yehudit Rosenberg and Samuel, who was given permanent residency status in Israel to be with Moshe after the attack.
Samuel was greeted warmly by Modi.
“It was very exciting to meet the prime ministers, I was very nervous, it’s prime ministers,” she told Channel 2 after the meeting.
“When he becomes 18 I will go back to my country, so I have many years still to be with him,” she said.
It was an emotional moment to meet young Moshe, his maternal & paternal grandparents and Ms Sandra Solomon, his nanny. pic.twitter.com/jI93JBSDp1
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) July 5, 2017
In Mumbai, the current Chabad emissary Rabbi Yisroel Kozlovsky welcomed the meeting and said he hoped it would bring attention to the memorial museum built in the Holtzbergs’ memory.
“We’re glad that Prime Minister Modi met with Moshe and recognized the sacrifice of his parents, an exceptional couple and our personal role models, to establish Chabad-Lubavitch in Mumbai and their service to the Jewish people,” Kozlovsky said.
“My wife, Chaya, and I are humbled to be a part of, and to continue the holy work of Rabbi Gabi and Rivky Holtzberg, and are working diligently on actualizing the dream of a Memorial Museum at Nariman House that will help continue their legacy.”