Tel Aviv, Jul 5 (PTI) Moshe Holtzberg, the Israeli child who narrowly escaped death in the 2008 Mumbai terror attack at the age of two years, today expressed his desire to return to the Indian city and live there.
He made his desire known when Prime Minister Narendra Modi met him as also his Indian nanny Sandra Samuels, who had played a key role in saving the child during the terror attack at Chabad House in which his parents were killed.
Now 11 years old, Moshe lives with his grandparents Rabbi Shimon and Yehudit Rosenberg here.
“Aapka swagat hai hamare desh mein,” said the boy to Modi who was accompanied by Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Moshe told Modi, who affectionately hugged him, that he misses India. Modi told him that he is welcome to return to India and live there, for which he will be provided a long- term visa.
“Dear Mr Modi, I love you and the people in India… I live in Afula, but I remember our connection to Nariman House (Chabad House)…I hope I will be able to visit Mumbai and when I get older, I (will) live there,” Moshe said.
“Please continue to love me forever. Thank you. And always remember my parents,” said the boy to Modi while presenting a gift to the Indian prime minister.
“Thank you for your very very special gift,” Modi said.
“Come and stay in India and Mumbai. You are most welcome.
You and your all family members will get long-term visas. So you can come anytime and go anywhere,” Modi told the boy.
Netanyahu invited Moshe to accompany him to India when he travels there.
Moshe was just two at the time of the 26/11 attack and was rescued by his nanny who fled with him from the Nariman House after Pakistan-based LeT terrorists attacked it.
His late parents, Rabbi Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg, were directors of the Jewish center. Both were killed in the attack.
The Nariman House was one of the five places in Mumbai targeted by 10 terrorists who killed 166 people before nine of them were eliminated in a 60-hour-long operation. One terrorist was caught alive.
Moshe now lives with his grandparents in Afula. He now goes to a yeshiva (religious school). He is still very attached to his nanny Sandra who works in Jerusalem and joins the family over the weekends.
Israel honoured Sandra with an honorary citizenship in September 2010. She works with young kids in Jerusalem during the week and joins the Rosenberg family during the weekends.
Before meeting Modi, Moshe’s grandfather had said he wanted to do his grandson’s ‘bar mitvah’, a ceremony performed for Jewish boys at the age of 13 which Indian scholars in Israel compare with upnayana or the thread ceremony, in Mumbai for which he would invite Modi.