"Dear Sandra, Thank you for saving Moshe." Daniel Smith, a fifth-grader at Solomon Schecter Day School of Nassau County, expressed his appreciation to Sandra Samuel, the Indian nanny of Moshe Holtzberg, who saved the child from the terrorist attack on the Chabad House in Mumbai, India two weeks ago.
The boy’s parents, Rabbi Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg, were both killed. Smith's fifth-grade classmates wrote individual letters to Samuel, which were presented to the Israeli Consulate in New York for delivery to Israel.
Smith was joined at the Consulate this week by his classmate, Jennifer Lipman, their principal, Dr. Cindy Dolgin, and their Judaic Studies teacher, Lizet Romano, who initiated the project. The two represented the entire fifth grade in delivering the letters that recognized Samuel for her heroic act based on the Jewish tradition that “one who saves one person saves an entire nation.”
In their letters, the students thanked Samuel for her bravery and assured her that her good deed did not go unnoticed in their community. Lipman wrote, “Everyone at my school thinks you are a hero. Thank you for all you've done.”
Administrators felt there was a valuable pedagogical reason for this exercise. Dolgin commented, “What could our young students do under such terrifying circumstances taking place half a world away? As a class, the children and their teacher decided to write letters to Sandra Samuel to express their gratitude, their amazement and their awe for her bravery and courage in rescuing little Moshe, not unlike the rescue of another baby Moshe they had learned about in the Book of Exodus."
In addressing the students, David Saranga, consul for media and public affairs applauded the students’ desire to express their thanks. “The right way to transmit our thanks as the State of Israel is to welcome her into our community, as we have done. Samuel did the right thing by saving Moshe. She demonstrated that human life is valuable regardless of religion or ethnicity.”
The students’ letters have been passed for delivery to Chabad in Israel. Rabbi Shmuel Butman, director of the Lubavitch Youth Organization, noted, "Moishi was calling 'Mommy, mommy.' Sandra heard Moishi's cry and she brought him to safety totally sacrificing her own safety. She will be eternally remembered for her selflessness and heroism."
The Solomon Schechter Day School of Nassau County, located in Jericho, NY, is a Jewish Day Elementary School affiliated with the Conservative Movement and provides a dual curriculum in Judaic and secular education.