Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi sent congratulations to Moshe Tzvi Holtzberg, who survived the 2008 terrorist attack in Mumbai, on the occasion of his Bar Mitzvah this week.
“As you make this important transition and cross a significant landmark in the journey of your life, the courage of [nanny] Sandra [Samuel] and prayers of the people of India will continue to bless you for a long, healthy and successful life,” Modi wrote.
India’s Ambassador to Israel Sanjeev Singla planned to read the letter at the boy’s celebration on Sunday night, which took place at Kfar Chabad. Singla brought the letter with him from India.
In November 2008, Pakistani terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba carried out 12 attacks in Mumbai over four days, killing 165 people and wounding more than 300. Two terrorists targeted the Chabad House in Mumbai, holding eight Jews hostage and murdering them. Two of those killed were Moshe’s parents, Rabbi Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg, the Chabad emissaries to Mumbai. Rivka was five months pregnant at the time.
Sandra Samuel, Moshe Holtzberg’s nanny, saved the two-year-old’s life, running out of the building holding him after finding him next to his motionless parents. Holtzberg then moved to Israel to live with grandparents in Afula, and Samuel came with him, eventually receiving honorary Israeli citizenship.
Modi wrote to Holtzberg that his “story continues to inspire everyone. It is one of miracle and hope overcoming tragedy and immeasurable loss. The perpetrators of the cowardly terrorist attack… clearly failed. They could not subdue our vibrant diversity. Nor could they dampen our spirit to march forward. Today, India and Israel stand together even more determined against terrorism and hatred.”
Modi met Moshe Holtzberg during his visit to Israel in 2017.
“I warmly remember meeting you in Jerusalem, along with Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu,” Modi wrote. “I hope that your wish to return some day to Chabad House in Mumbai as its director comes true.”
Holtzberg joined Netanyahu on a visit to India in 2018, when they visited the Mumbai Chabad House and dedicated a memorial to the victims of the 2008 terror attack. Holtzberg said a prayer of thanks to G-d for sparing his life.
Ahead of the Sunday night celebration, Moshe traveled to New York where he donned tefillin for the first time in the presence of his father’s family and friends. He also visited 770, the Lubavitcher Rebbe Shul.