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'Nobody wants replay of the tragedy'

Sanaya Dalal in Mumbai | December 18, 2008 12:01 IST

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It has been three weeks since Mumbai was attacked, and the sights and sounds of the siege are fresh in most Mumbaikars's minds as they try to make sense of what happened.

One of the most vivid images etched into memory is that of a two-year-old boy orphaned during those horrific days.

Little Moshe Holtzberg, the son of slain Jewish couple Rabbi Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg was saved by his heroic nanny, Sandra Samuel. She found the child crying over the bodies of his parents within the Jewish Chabad centre located at Nariman House and took him to safety. spoke to Solomon Sopher, a friend of the Holtzbergs and president of Mumbai's Baghdadi Jewish community about what is to become of Moshe and how the city's Jews are coping with being targetted by terrorists. This is what he said:

Moshe Holtzberg is currently in Israel with his maternal grandparents, Shimon and Yehudit Rosenberg. His nanny Sandra Samuel is also with the family -- Moshe is very attached to her -- and we are all hoping that sooner rather than later, the child will also start getting used to his grandmother and a new life there without his parents.

The Rosenbergs have very bravely pledged to return to Mumbai and resume their daughter and son-in-law's work, running the Chabad Centre at Nariman House. In the midst of such deep sorrow, it is only natural for the parents to want to take up their children's cause, but in my opinion it will take a long time for Chabad House to start functioning again.

We will have to wait for a chance to speak to them about all of this. At the moment, the family is still in mourning -- as per Jewish custom, the period of mourning will continue for 30 days after the deaths and it is inappropriate to question them directly about all these issues till it is over. But re-opening the centre will not be so easy.

For one thing, there is talk of restoring Nariman House, but it is not the ideal location for the Chabad House; the building is in the midst of a marketplace, connected to so many other buildings that neighbouring residents are now afraid of a repeat episode. To the best of my belief, locals are objecting to another state of affairs like that and the centre may have to be moved elsewhere.

Moreover, we will need to fortify whichever building houses the centre. It will most likely require a lot more security and cooperation from the government -- we cannot risk it being as conquerable as it was the last time around. Some kind of defence apparatus will definitely have to be put in place.

Having said that, the heads of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement are most determined that the movement regain momentum as soon as possible in Mumbai. Rabbi Shalom Goldberg, a prominent member of Chabad-Lubavitch, has taken it upon himself to preserve its presence in the city and have the centre re-open its doors.

The Jewish community in general is now more prepared for such unfortunate incidents. Everyone is showing signs of alertness and wherever possible, security is being beefed up. Nobody wants to risk the replay of such a tragedy.

Also see:
Baby Moshe leaves for Israel
'The congregation dissolved in tears at Moshe's grief'
Inside Nariman House

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