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Mumbai Nanny Saves Toddler's Life

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The tragedy in Mumbai touched the hearts of all mothers this holiday weekend. This story of the toddler whose life was miraculously spared brought tears to our eyes.


The Mumbai attacks on November 26 took the lives of at least 195 people, including the life of young mother Rivkah Holtzberg. She and her husband, a rabbi, were murdered. Their 23-month-old son Moishe Zvi was surely next ... but a quick-thinking nanny named Sandra Samuel saved him.

"I heard Moishe. He called me: 'Sandra! Sandra! Sandra!'" she said. "I decided to go upstairs despite the shooting and find him. The guy who was with me didn't want me to go upstairs, but I was scared that if Moishe kept calling me, somebody will hear him, get to him and harm him.

"When I got upstairs all the terrorists were apparently on the roof. I found Moishe standing next to his parents. Everything was full of blood. I grabbed him, went outside the room and ran outside."

"When the baby emerged with the nanny, he had blood stains on him," Benjamin Isaac, secretary of the Indian Jewish Federation, told Reuters. "Thankfully it wasn't his blood. But we knew someone's blood had already been spilled."

The toddler was reunited with his Israeli grandparents on Friday.

Shimon Rosenberg, Rivka's father, thanked the Indian nanny at a memorial service. "With her great resourcefulness, Sandra saves my grandson's life. If she hadn't grabbed him, he would surely have been murdered," he said. Rosenberg broke into tears as he spoke, when his grandson Moishe Zvi also began crying and searching for his mother.

"Ima! Abba!," Moishe said, using the Hebrew words for mother and father. Then the boy burst into tears and cried on the shoulder of his maternal grandmother.

"Gaby and Rivka dedicated their life to bring light selflessly and joyously to our world. In a very short time their house became a home away from home for Jewish travelers from all over the world," said Rabbi Simcha and Shterna Backman of the Chabad Jewish Center in Glendale, California. "Friday, their little boy Moishe Tzvi, whose life was miraculously spared, celebrated his second birthday. Over the past two years, every Friday night, the Shabbat candles lit by Rivkah shone brightly in the Chabad House in Mumbai. Now these lights have been replaced by blood stains and destruction."

The heroic nanny Sandra Samuels arrived in Israel on Sunday and was granted entry by the Interior Ministry. Army Radio reported that the interior minister was considering bestowing Sandra the 'righteous gentile' title, which would allow her to remain in Israel for an extended period of time.

Our thoughts go out to everyone affected by this horrific tragedy in Mumbai. If you would like to help, the Chabad organization has set up a fund for the Holtzberg family and other victims.

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7 comments so far | Post a comment now
irene j December 1, 2008, 3:10 PM

i’m so sorry for the loss of of your family.
but you have this wonderful little boy who you can love and give him a safe life. you did not lose everybody,i know it’s hutfull but you have your grandson. you will
be in my thoughts and prayer.
may peace come soon.

irene j December 1, 2008, 3:16 PM

so very sorry for your did not lose everbody in this tragic event. love and laugh with your beautiful grandson.
best wishes for all of your
family. may peace come soon.

Asim Shrestha December 1, 2008, 7:40 PM

humanity has no religion, and terrorism doesn’t belong to any religion

M.L. December 2, 2008, 1:17 AM

This just breaks my heart. That poor little boy. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

Jenny December 2, 2008, 9:40 AM

She gives Mary Poppins a new meaning!!! Does she want to come to the states?

Reem  December 6, 2008, 4:48 PM

My little boy, I wish I could hug you tight.
Peace please for all.

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