Perhaps the only ‘feel-good” moment coming out of the horrific attack last week at the Chabad House in Mumbai was the fact that Sandra Samuel, risked her own life to save the life of two year old Moshe Holtzberg by smuggling the boy out of the house under fire. There is no doubt that the boy would have suffered the same fate as his parents. Below is her first interview (including a video) since she took Moshe to safety:
JPost.com Staff , THE JERUSALEM POST
“Even today, I am thinking I should have sent the baby and done something for the rabbi and his wife,” she told CNN.
Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his wife, Rivka had moved to Mumbai to establish a Chabad mission in 2003. Tragically, they were both killed during the three-day stand off which ensued after terrorists stormed their building. Their child, Moshe, had been rescued by Samuel during the first day of the ordeal.
Shortly after she was filmed by cameras fleeing the building whilst clutching the boy in her arms, she told police that she had seen some of the hostages lying on the floor unconscious as she made her escape. Speaking to CNN, she described how she just narrowly avoided the same fate.
“I saw one man was shooting at me – he shot at me,” she said while describing the events of the first day. “I closed the door.”
“I was in the storeroom hiding like a coward,” she continued. “Until the next morning, when the baby called me. Moshe, when I went to him, he was next to his Ima (mother) standing and crying my name. That’s what I know.”
“My first thought was for the baby,” Samuel said. “But then I saw my rabbi and his wife, I thought…even today I am thinking I should have sent the baby and done something for the rabbi and his wife, but…”
Speaking specifically about how she managed to flee from the building unnoticed with the boy, she said that it was only possible because the baby was quiet and didn’t draw the attention of the terrorists.
“When I picked him up he was quiet, that’s why I could bring him out,” Samuel said. “If somebody else was there maybe he would have made a racket, but just because it was me and he’s been since a baby in my arms…”
She said that she wasn’t scared as she started to run, and that the only thought was that she and Moshe get out safe.
“I was like…just take the baby and run,” she said. “Frankly, I don’t even know what I was thinking. I just picked up the baby and I ran, and that other worker was with me, Jackie, and we ran. Like mad we just ran.”
“When I hear gunshots, it’s not like one or two, it’s like hundreds of gunshots. 10, 20 grenades, bombs in the Chabad, so…I don’t think of fear,” she recalled. “Does anyone think of dying at that moment when a small, precious baby’s…no.”
“I have dreams, nightmares, actually, about this,” Samuel told the interviewer. “Me sitting between the fridge and another worker sitting by the fridge, but we want to do something and we can’t do anything and we go to the window and as we come out they bomb, the glass has been shattered everywhere.”
In response to a question about how she’s coping now, she smiled sadly and sad, “Me? Baby’s there…Sandra is there. That’s it.