Ten years after terrorists killed close to 170 people and injured hundreds more in a series of attacks throughout the city of Mumbai, Moshe Holtzberg—the only child of Chabad-Lubavitch emissaries Rabbi Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg, who were murdered in their Chabad House—was joined by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to unveil the plans for a state-of-the-art Living Memorial at the Nariman (Chabad) House, that commemorate all victims of the attacks.
Netanyahu was welcomed to the center by Rabbi Israel and Chaya Kozlovsky, co-directors of Chabad-Lubavitch of Mumbai. After signing the guest book, Netanyahu remarked that the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory, had told him to “kindle light and thus to expel the darkness, for such is the nature of light. When one kindles even but one candle it has the power to banish much darkness.”
Speaking to Moshe at the unveiling of plans for the Living Memorial, the prime minister noted how the boy was “growing and developing beautifully,” and that he would soon be bar mitzvah and would one day raise a family. “The Jewish nation is accompanying you all the way,” said Netanyahu.
“What happened here represents the polar opposites of love and hate,” said Netanyahu. “The hatred was perpetrated by the terrorists, but it also expressed tremendous love. The love of your parents Gabi and Rivky to you Moshe, and the love that is expressed by the Chabad House here in Mumbai and the love that is expressed by the embracing and loving attitude of the Chabad emissaries around the world who provide a loving home for every Jew around the world. “
Moshe presented the prime minister with a memorial photo and described how his parents loved and cared for him and provided a home for everyone in the Jewish nation.
“Thank you, prime minister of Israel for inviting me to come back to my home to visit after nine years in Israel and thank you G‑d,” said Moshe. He recited the traditional blessing made when one returns for the first time to a place from which one has escaped great danger, “Baruch She’Asah Li Nes B’Makom HaZeh”- “Blessed is the One Who performed for me a miracle in this place.” In conclusion Moshe again thanked Sandra for saving life. He then invited the prime minister to attend his bar mitzvah.
Earlier, in addition to unveiling the plans for the Living Memorial, the Prime Minister unveiled a plaque in memory of Moshe’s parents, Chabad-Lubavitch emissaries Rabbi Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg. Then Moshe Holtzberg’s two grandmothers lit an “eternal flame” in remembrance of the victims. Afterwards, the group was joined by more than 60 dignitaries from India, Israel and abroad, and heard from Kozlovsky as he outlined the vision for the Living Memorial. Rabbi Yosef Chaim Kantor, regional director of Chabad-Lubavitch, spoke about the Rebbe’s response to loss and tragedy. Netanyahu then visited the Holtzbergs’ still bullet-ridden residence.
Prior to the event, the rabbi spoke to Chabad.org about the project’s mission:
“Inspired by the universal teachings of the Rebbe—Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory—the Living Memorial is designed to show how every individual has the ability and responsibility to make the world a better place,” said Kozlovsky.
Geared to educate and inspire people of all backgrounds to act for the betterment of themselves, their communities and the world, the Living Memorial will incorporate the apartment where the Holtzbergs lived, as well as the floor where most of the murders occurred, explained Koslovsky. On the top floor—where the sites of the other terror attacks that swept through Mumbai are visible—a reflection garden will offer a serene spot recognizing all the victims of the attacks.
Another Step in Rebuilding After a Tragedy
Since arriving in 2012, the Kozlovskys, based out of a small house in Mumbai, set out to re-establish Chabad’s activities and services in the region to its pre-2008 levels and rebuild Nariman House, which remained in disrepair following the terror attack and subsequent Indian commando raid. Amid much celebration, Chabad of Mumbai formally reopened Nariman House in 2014. The property of the Chabad India Trust, it serves as the nerve center for Chabad’s work in the city, as well as a home away from home for local community members and visitors from around the world.
Moshe was invited to visit his former home by Indian Prime Minister Narenda Modi during the premier’s maiden visit to Israel in July. It was then that Netanyahu invited the boy to join him on this trip to India, the first by an Israeli prime minister in 15 years.
The 11-year-old has been living in Israel with his maternal grandparents since the tragedy, and studies in a yeshivah. Just 2 years old at the time of the attack, he was brought to safety by his Indian nanny, Sandra Samuel, who also resides in Israel and continues to remain close with her former charge. Moshe’s financial well-being has been ensured through a fund established by Chabad-Lubavitch that will see him into adulthood. Earlier this week, Samuel accompanied Moshe on his first visit back to his former home.