Rivlin at memorial for victims of Mumbai Chabad House attack
Rivlin at memorial for victims of Mumbai Chabad House attackMark Neiman/GPO

President Reuven Rivlin this evening (Monday) laid a wreath at a memorial ceremony at the Taj Palace Hotel for the victims of the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks. The President was joined at the ceremony by Chennamanei Vidyasager Rao, Governor of Maharashtra state of India, as well as other senior state officials, leaders and members of the Jewish community, and members of the business and academic delegation who accompanied the President on his State Visit to India.

“Nearly 8 years ago this wonderful city was the victim of one of the most terrifying, brutal, and murderous, terror attacks,” said President Rivlin and added, “like Israelis, Indians are sadly no strangers to the threat and the reality of modern global terrorism. And let us be clear, terror is terror is terror - wherever it strikes. Hatred, fundamentalism, extremism, and incitement, they equal one thing - terror.”

He continued, “As we stand here we say clearly that terror will never win. Terror will never win. Our values of democracy and freedom are strong and we will defend them with all our might. We cannot however just rely on values and words. We must act and work together: to share intelligence and best practices, to keep our peoples safe, to protect our borders, our towns and cities. India and Israel stand shoulder to shoulder in this fight. This is our duty to the memory of the victims, and will be the legacy we leave for future generations.”

Later, President Rivlin met with the state governor, and then with leaders of the Mumbai Jewish community. He noted that the Hebrew name for India was the same as the word for ‘praise’ and said, “We praise, and give thanks to India and its Jewish community for the warm welcome we have received. You, the Jews of India, are true Indian patriots who at the same time do not give up on your Jewish or Indian identity - but rather unite them together proudly.”

The President went on to visit the Chabad House which was targeted in the terror attacks in November 2008. The President laid a wreath in memory of the six victims of the horrific attack there; Rabbi Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg, who ran the open Chabad House, and their guests Bentzion Kruman, Rabbi Leibish Teitelbaum, Yoheved Orpaz, and Norma Rabinovich.

The President and his wife went up to the room which belonged to Moshe, son of Rabbi Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg, who was rescued on the day of the attack by the family’s Indian nanny Sandra Samuel. On the walls of his room remain the paintings and Hebrew alphabet drawn by his mother. He turns 10 this week.

They heard the stories of what happened, and how Moshe had descended three flights of stairs alone to find his nanny who managed to escape with him.

The President spoke of Moshe’s visit with his grandfather and nanny Sandra to the President’s Residence in Jerusalem, when they arrived in Israel. “When I saw Moshe,” the President said, “I could not help but think ‘Am Yisrael Chai’ (the People of Israel Live). And today here too, in this Chabad House which offers a warm welcome to Jews from around the world every day without rest, I think the same thing again, the People of Israel live. The free world lives, and we will overcome terror.”

The President was due to return to Israel this evening.