Emotional homecoming for baby Moshe’s grandparents

Nariman House reopens after the 26/11 attack

Updated - November 17, 2021 11:09 am IST

Published - August 26, 2014 06:12 pm IST - Mumbai

A Rabbi lights candles in the memory of emissary Rabbi Gabi, who was killed at this spot in the Chabad House, during the 2008 terror attack in Mumbai. Photo:  Vivek Bendre

A Rabbi lights candles in the memory of emissary Rabbi Gabi, who was killed at this spot in the Chabad House, during the 2008 terror attack in Mumbai. Photo: Vivek Bendre

For the grandparents of baby Moshe, crossing the threshold of Nariman House which re-opened on Tuesday after the 26/11 terror attack almost six years ago, was both joyful and agonising.

It was within these walls – which still bear the scars of bullets and shrapnel – that Rabbi Nachman Holtzberg’s son Gavriel and daughter-in-law Rivka were killed during the 2008 siege. Their two-year-old son Moshe was pulled away to safety by his Indian nanny Sandra Samuel.

“I am happy but we cannot forget, this is where we lost them,” Mr. Holtzberg told The Hindu. Moshe is now almost eight years old. “He asks about his parents a lot. He wants to come to India and see where they lived,” said Mr. Holtzberg.

On their tiny camera, his wife Freida proudly displays photographs of Moshe on the football field, eating ice-cream and playing with his Lego set. “He looks just like my son did at that age. He also loves going to the zoo,” says Freida Holtzberg. His nanny Sandra, who remains in Israel, is still a part of his life.

Gavriel led the Chabad Lubavitch community in the city and lived at Nariman House. The building has now been resurrected but still bears chilling testimony to the terror strike. At the spot where Gavriel was killed, the wall ridden with bullet marks remains intact.

Two entire floors are preserved as they were during the siege, with the walls and ceiling pock-marked with gun-shots and blood-stains. Moshe’s room has paintings of little birds and alphabets, amidst bullet-holes.

The two floors will house a $ 2.5 million museum, a memorial to all the victims of 26/11. “We don’t want to whitewash history, so we preserved the interiors,” said Nick Applebaum who led the design for the museum.

‘First true memorial’

“This is a project for all of India. It will be the first true memorial for the victims of the Mumbai terror attacks,” he added. The terrace of Nariman House will list the names of all 166 victims of the attack. It is a vantage point from where most of the 26/11 targets can be seen.

The museum is yet to be built but the rest of the Chabad Centre re-opened in Tuesday with more than 25 rabbis from across Asia joining the celebrations. “We have not left Mumbai for a day. We want to continue their work. We did not want to look for a new building. We hope the families find solace here,” said the new director of the Chabad Centre Rabbi Yisroel Kozlovsky.

0 / 0
Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.