Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Sandra Samuel - The Righteous Gentile


Amidst the stories of death, devastation, destruction and despair unleashed by the violent acts of the terrorists in Mumbai tales of bravery and valour are emerging.One such is about Sandra Samuel who saved the the life of Moshe the 2 year old son of Rabbi Gavriel and wife Rivka Holtzberg.
I have taken the following stories from chabad.org and another Jewish website

Sandra Samuel: A Heroine in Mumbai By Sara Esther Crispe


I keep trying to imagine the situation. The terrorists break into the Chabad house and everyone there fears that this could be the end. Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg calls the Israeli Consulate. "The situation is not good" is all he is able to say in Hebrew before the line goes dead. That is the last anyone hears from him.
Would they find her baby? Would they kill him?From the reports of those who found the bodies, it appears that Rivka was killed first. When she is found, she is covered in a prayer shawl, a tallit. Presumably Gavriel's final act, before he is also brutally murdered, is to cover his beloved wife.
But where was Moshe? Where was their baby boy? This question haunts me.
Was he with his parents? It doesn't appear so for why would these ruthless murders have let him live? These very terrorists attacked a maternity ward in a hospital. They clearly had no mercy for babies. So one can assume he was not there at the time.
I imagine he was in bed, perhaps his crib, for the night. Most likely on another floor of the building. For when he was found, he was clutching a doll. Perhaps the one he would go to sleep with.
I think about Rivka and what must have been going through her mind. Would they find her baby? Would they kill him? Should she tell them he was there? What if he wakes up? What if he starts to cry? Is there anything she can do for him? We will never know what ran through her mind. But every mother knows that her baby was the last thing she thought about.
One of the only comforts from this entire tragedy that viciously took the lives of 183 innocent victims, is that little Moshe was heroically saved.
Little Moshe was calling her nameWhen a mother leaves her baby in the care of another, be it for an hour or a day, it requires a tremendous amount of trust. We hope and pray that our baby will be well taken care of, fed, clothed properly and watched carefully. We try to ensure that if G‑d Forbid there is a problem, the caretaker will know what to do, who to call, how to care for our child. But how many of us can assume that if the situation arises, that our caretaker will actually risk her life for our child? How many of us really feel that our babysitter would die to save our baby?
The Holtzbergs were blessed with such a selfless, brave and heroic caretaker. There is no question that if it were not for the actions of Sandra Samuel, Moshe's nanny, he would not have survived the ordeal. Sandra was on the bottom floor of the Chabad House when the terrorists stormed in. She barricaded herself while she cowered from the shootings and bombings happening above her head. She did not dare leave her hiding spot until the next day, when the attacks seemed to have stopped. It was only then that she heard little Moshe crying.
She easily could have ran out, saving herself. It would have been understandable. After all, the terrorists didn't know that anyone was left inside alive. If they heard the crying, they would come back in to finish the job. It would have made most sense for her to get out of there as quickly as possible. But she didn't. She couldn't. Little Moshe was calling her name.
Sandra left her barricaded room and went upstairs for Moshe. She found him, next to his parents and soaked in their blood. She grabbed him and ran.
Miraculously, the terrorists who were still on the roof of the Chabad House didn't hear or see her or Moshe. Miraculously, this little orphan survived because of his caretaker who risked everything to save him.
Baby Moshe, who just turned two on Shabbat, is now with his maternal grandparents. He will be living with them in Israel. His grandparents are already taking care of his older sibling who is unfortunately quite ill and in Israel for treatment. Not long ago Moshe lost another sibling to a degenerative genetic disease. They are currently working on getting a visa to bring Sandra to Israel. Right now, she is the only one little Moshe will respond to.
This little orphan survived because of his caretaker who risked everything to save himAs Moshe grows older, he will have to struggle with the reality of what happened to his parents. Trying to make sense, at any age, of senseless brutality and death is the greatest of challenges. He will not be able to understand why it happened. No one can. And as loving as his grandparents are, they are not his parents.
But through his pain and loss, he will also hear the stories of the incredible work his parents did, the numerous lives they touched and people they helped. And he will be blessed with the knowledge that his nanny, the very woman his parents trusted to care for him, gave him the utmost gift and risked everything for his well being. Nothing will ever replace the loss Moshe has endured. And nothing will fill the void that Gavriel and Rivka left when they were taken from this world. But Sandra Samuel is a light amidst this darkness. Sandra is the proof that when people show their evil, others will show their beauty and greatness.
Sandra Samuel is a true heroine.
Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and wife Rivka

If you want to want to watch a short video of this story GO HERE
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THE Indian nanny who rescued two-year-old Moshe Holtzberg from the attack at Mumbai's Chabad Jewish Centre will be conferred with a special honour usually reserved for those who risked their lives to save Jews from the Holocaust.

The "righteous gentile" award will enable Sandra Samuel to live in Israel. She and Moshe are expected to arrive in the country next week to live with the boy's maternal grandparents.

This is the honour that was bestowed on Oskar Schindler, the German industrialist who was the subject of Thomas Keneally's novel, Schindler's Ark. The book was turned into a film by Steven Spielberg.

Lauded a hero by the Chabad movement and Moshe's family, Ms Samuel had worked at the centre for about five years. She started caring for Moshe and had become "extremely connected to him", according to family and friends.

As terrorists stormed the Chabad centre last week, Ms Samuel locked herself in a room with another staff member.

The following morning, she heard Moshe calling her name and went to look for him.

She found Moshe, his pants covered in blood, crying beside his motionless parents. Ms Samuel told reporters she grabbed the child and ran outside.

Moshe's parents, Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his wife Rivka, were confirmed dead after commandos stormed the building. Ms Samuel has expressed a desire to move to Israel to stay with the boy. She will accompany Moshe's grandparents on a special flight being arranged by Israel's air force.

According to Menachem Brod, a spokesman for Chabad in Israel, the only obstacle to Ms Samuel being conferred with the status of "righteous gentile" is the paperwork.

The story of Moshe's survival and his quick-witted nanny has captured the hearts of terror-hardened Israelis, who have been gripped by the saga unfolding in a country many feel they know.

Six hostages were found dead inside the Chabad centre.

2 Fertilize my soul:

Felisol said...

Dear Amrita,
Nobody has greater love, than he who lays down his life for his next of kin.
I am deeply touched by this story.
A light in the darkness.
WE all need that now.
From Felisol

Julia Dutta said...

Tks Amrita for this story up. It is touching indeed. God has his ways and I keep wondering, what little Moshe will grow up to be. So much loss, so early in life and other siblings too....but the most touching lines were "But every mother knows that her baby was the last thing she thought about". I have heard the love of the child is the single most important link a woman has to her baby, even more than what she has with her husband after the baby is born.
Julia