Tel Aviv, Israel (CNN) — In a scene his parents would have been heartened to see, family and friends recently thronged around young Moshe Holtzberg as men in black suits and black hats took turns cutting locks of hair from the boy’s head on a stage in a rented party tent outside Tel Aviv, Israel.
The celebration marked Moshe’s third birthday and in Hasidic Judaism tradition he received a haircut to symbolize his readiness to begin his religious education.
Standing not 10 feet away and watching closely was Sandra Samuel, the Indian nanny who one year ago saved Moshe’s life.
Samuel was working as a nanny for Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg when the Jewish Chabad Center they ran in Mumbai, India, came under attack by terrorists.
Samuel survived the attack and rescued Moshe who she found crying, standing between the bodies of his parents.
Since that fateful day she has not left Moshe’s side. Samuel accompanied him to Israel where, with her help, he is now being taken care of by his grandparents and extended family.
A year on Sandra said the memories of Mumbai and Moshe’s parents still haunt her. Holding back tears, she said, “I feel happy for the baby, but I am very sad, more than sad, I think.”
Jewish orphan finds new life The pain she feels remembering the horror of the attack is tempered by the great progress she has seen Moshe make since his arrival in Israel just days after his parents were killed.
“He has adjusted very very well and is like a normal kid. He goes to school, he plays, he jumps. He has a lot of friends. His life is normal,” she said.
Moshe’s paternal grandfather Rabbi Nachman Holtzberg said Samuel has been like a surrogate mother. “She knows everything about him, all the natural things because she has known (him) since he was a small child. Things are getting better and better.”
Holtzberg added that the entire family rallied together to help Moshe adapt to life without his parents and believes his son would be pleased. “I’m sure that my son would be here now and looking at how I take care of him. He would be happy.”
Samuel, a mother of two grown children, said she was trying to spend less time with Moshe so he could better adapt to his family and sees herself returning home to India within two years — though she said she would stay in Israel for as long as Moshe needed her.
Samuel said her message was simple: “To carry on life. Be strong and that’s it. Put everything in God’s hands.”