Sandra Samuels, nanny who saved Moshe Holtzberg during 26/11, says he would have enjoyed Mumbai if 'media hadn't been there'

Samuels said that upon his arrival here, Moshe was terrified of cameras which followed him everywhere, and the psychiatrist who is accompanying him on this visit took three hours to calm him down

PTI January 19, 2018 09:23:56 IST
Sandra Samuels, nanny who saved Moshe Holtzberg during 26/11, says he would have enjoyed Mumbai if 'media hadn't been there'

Mumbai: Describing herself as a "simple Indian woman", Sandra Samuels, who as a nanny saved the life of then two-year-old Moshe Holtzberg during 26/11 terror attacks, said she doesn't feel she did anything special. "My baby (Moshe) was there, I had to do something. I got a chance (to escape), I took it," she said.

Samuels is visiting Mumbai with Moshe, who is now an 11-year-old boy living in Israel, and his grandparents. Speaking to select media persons, she said, "Everybody feels I did something special, but I don't feel so. Moshe was more special. God does everything. God put me in that position. I have been extremely protective about Moshe and will always be there for him, whenever he calls me," said Samuels, who too now lives in Israel.

Sandra Samuels nanny who saved Moshe Holtzberg during 2611 says he would have enjoyed Mumbai if media hadnt been there

File image of Moshe Holtzberg with his Indian nanny Sandra in 2010. Getty Images

"Moshe is very scared of camera flash guns. There is something in his subconscious mind that is connected to the horrific event," she said. "He hates anybody taking his pictures. His brain recognises (at subconscious level)... because, when we got out of the Chabad House (during the attacks), media was all over. There were mics, flashes. I think he has that memory. He remembers, he is afraid of it," she added.

Samuels said that upon his arrival here, Moshe was terrified of cameras which followed him everywhere, and the psychiatrist who is accompanying him on this visit took three hours to calm him down.

He loves Mumbai, and "he would have really enjoyed his time in Bombay if the media hadn't been there", she said. "When he was four, I got him a beautiful laser torch, but when he saw its flash, he threw it away," Samuels said.

She said she meets him for two or three hours every Sunday. "We don't talk about his fears. I never bring him (refer to) to Chabad moments. Ice cream, football, ping-pong — we talk of it all. We eat falafel, have fruit, ice drink," she said.

"I moved out when he was five, because the family is ultra-conservative and religious. Rabbi Gavriel and Rivka's graves are in Jerusalem... I go to them, I tell them things. When I touched the wall of Chabad House (today), I told Rivka, your boy is growing big," an emotional Samuels said. "All Indian women are courageous. In the entire world, women are more courageous than men."

Moshe's father Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and mother Rivka, who were then running the Chabad House, a Jewish cultural-religious centre, in south Mumbai, were killed with six others during the 26/11 terror attacks. Samuels, Moshe's nanny, managed to escape with the toddler.

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