Family of trapped Israelis pray for their safety

Relatives of an Israeli couple trapped in the Chabad House by gunmen in the Indian city of Mumbai gathered in prayer at a family home on Thursday, desperately trying to find out whether their loved ones were safe. The family of Rabbi Gavriel Noach Holtzberg and his wife, Rivki, said they knew nothing beyond reports that the couple's 2-year-old son had been rescued, but four people in the building were "unconscious." "We are praying that everything will be OK. We are still in a state of uncertainty," said Mrs. Holtzberg's father, Rabbi Shimon Rosenberg. Phones at the family house in Afula rang constantly as relatives tried to gather information from India, and Israeli media led their newscasts with reports of the case. Later Thursday, family members left for India. Rabbi Holtzberg is the main representative at the Chabad center in Mumbai. The gunmen, believed to be Muslim extremists, stormed the house as part of a series of coordinated attacks across Mumbai late Wednesday that killed more than 100 people. Early Thursday, Sandra Samuel, a woman who worked at the center and had been barricaded inside, came out of the building with the Holtzberg's 2-year-old son, Moshe. "I took the child, I just grabbed the baby and ran out," said Samuel, 44, who has worked as a cook for the center for the last five years. She said the boy was safe, but his blood-soaked pants indicated that others had been harmed. She said that as she ran out, she saw four people lying on the floor, apparently "unconscious." Sharona Galtzuker, a friend and neighbor of the Holtzbergs, told Israeli Channel 10 TV that Samuel brought the child to her home. "He was very dirty and very scared when he arrived," she said, speaking by telephone in Hebrew, with what sounded like an Indian accent. "I gave him food and water. My kids played with him and he calmed down a little." A Chabad spokesman said there were eight Israelis inside the house, including Rabbi Holtzberg and his wife. "We have no information other than the grandson managed to get out alive and we hope our daughter and her husband will be OK," said Rosenberg. "They have been in Mumbai for five years and their whole cause is to do good deeds for people." He said he had spoken to his daughter on Wednesday and "everything was normal." Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said his colleagues were trying to trace between 20 and 30 Israelis visiting India who have so far not contacted their families at home, but there was no evidence that the travelers were actually in Mumbai.