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CNN Reports: Moshe's Tale

CNN's "World's Untold Stories" produced a documentary about the massacre on the shluchim in Mumbai. Moishe Holtzberg's hero nanny Sandra Samuel describes her terrifying ordeal, and Rabbi Dov Goldberg walks through the now destroyed Chabad Center vividly recounting what occured that fateful day from the first shot by the terrorists. Also, in a related blog post, a CNN reporter describes what it was like reporting on the Chabad House while it was held hostage.

 


In the eyes of a reporter

I truly did not know what to expect when I entered the Chabad House in Mumbai. To be honest, like most people in Mumbai, I hadn't even heard of it and I certainly didn't know where it was -- until November 26th last year. A day still etched in my mind.

For hours at a time, I reported live for CNN on the situation at Chabad House. Like the hundreds of journalists standing outside, I wondered just what was going on inside. Who did that last gunshot kill? Is there anyone left alive? Have the commandos gone in? By the time the siege had ended, a number of people were dead, including Rabbi Gavi Holtzberg and his wife, Rivka. But their baby son Moshe had survived, saved by an unselfish act of heroism by the couple's Indian nanny, Sandra Samuel.

In December, I returned to the now-wrecked Chabad House. As soon as my cameraman Sanjiv Talreja and I entered the building, we had to stop in our tracks. We literally did not know where to put our feet: the floors had big gaping holes, there was rubble everywhere, slabs of concrete lying around, parts of the ceiling on the floor -- and bloodstains almost everywhere I looked.

We were told we had just a few minutes to film. I looked at a clock that had fallen off the wall. 11pm. That must have been soon after the terrorists entered the house.

Sanjiv got to work. With the camera hoisted on his shoulder, he began filming furiously. We first filmed the store room, where Moshe's nanny hid. The shelves were stacked with rotting food and the stench was unbearable.

We got on with the job. We made our way through the five floors of the Chabad House. We saw a prayer cap on the floor; half-drunk bottles of water and Limca, a local lemonade; the bloodstained tie of Rabbi Holtzberg. We saw baby wipes in the middle of the rubble. A toy car under shattered glass. Shoes, clothes and toys in baby Moshe's colorful room.

Sanjiv and I barely spoke. We've worked together so often before, we understand each other well. I knew he was shocked, he knew I was numb.

Being a mother of a little boy myself, I simply couldn't bear to be in the Chabad House. I kept thinking about the prayer service held at a Mumbai synagogue days after the attacks. It was there that Moshe burst into tears and screamed for his ima, the Hebrew word for mother. It was the most chilling sound I've ever heard -- and it was chilling to be in his room.

I know Moshe's now safe and well. But I'll never know how human beings can inflict the kind of carnage they did on the Chabad House on that tragic November night.

-- From Mallika Kapur, Mumbai Correspondent, CNN International

 

 


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