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God’s Work


Nachman Holtzberg has retrieved Gabi’s knives—the only personal items not held as evidence. Back in Brooklyn, he says he’d be proud if his other children became shluchim too. “I would be happy, absolutely.”

And his wife?

He sighs. “Not everyone can be the same.”

A few weeks after the attacks, in late December, Dov Ber dies at age 4. (It is later learned that the baby Rivki was carrying had tested negative for Tay-Sachs.) Nachman Holtzberg does not want to discuss it: “It’s not important,” he says. He means we must focus on what is ongoing, which means Moshe. Now he, too, is an emissary; the only Jew to survive, he accompanied the bodies of the six victims on an Israeli Air Force flight from Mumbai. His parents are buried next to his brothers on the Mount of Olives.

Many have noted that Moshe, like his biblical namesake, was rescued by a non-Jew; Sandra, now taking care of him at Rivki’s parents’ home in Afula, has been mentioned as a possible recipient of Israel’s “righteous Gentile” designation. That would allow her to remain with him, she hopes, at least until he is “fully normal.”

But what will that mean? For months, Moshe has been “very nervous,” Nachman Holtzberg says. “Nobody knows what he knows.” Things that remind him of India—a toy, a visitor—seem to bring it all back, and he wails. But Sandra, in a recent phone conversation, says Moshe has forgotten what Urdu he knew and has not asked for his parents in fourteen days.

“It’s a good thing,” she adds. And maybe it is. The world is a painful place to get to know.

At which point Moshe, who has been giggling in the background, grabs the phone. “Shalom?” he inquires.


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