One hundred days since Hamas’ attack and the kidnapping of hostages, Rachel Goldberg Polin, whose son Hersh is among the kidnapped, wrote the following article for “L’Osservatore Romano”. The unofficial spokesperson for the family of hostages had met Pope Francis last November.
Today, Sunday, January 14th, is 100 days since my only son, Hersh, was stolen from me. Hersh is a civilian who was attending a music festival. Before being abducted, his arm was blown off at the elbow. He is a dual US-Israeli citizen.
There are no words that can appropriately describe what the past 100 days have been like for me and my family. Since his kidnapping, we know nothing about him.
But in this darkest of times, we have been showered with compassion, grace, love and support. What has been especially meaningful has been the outreach from the Christian community worldwide. We have received hundreds of thousands of messages from kind and caring Christians who send their blessings for Hersh to stay strong and come home to us. Photos of family Christmas dinner tables, with an empty plate with Hersh’s name on it, and people lighting candles for Hersh at Midnight Mass. To feel such beauty and tenderness from our Christian neighbours around the world has moved us to our core.
I was blessed with the unique opportunity to meet with the Holy Father as part of a small group of other families of hostages. He listened to us, and shared in our pain. The Holy Father said something that changed me. He said what we had experienced was terror, and that terror was “the absence of humanity.” It was simple, wise and inspiring. Until then, I had started to question humanity. But since hearing these words, my hope for the world was restored.
Since Hersh was kidnapped, I have worn a piece of masking tape above my heart with the number of the days it has been since he has been gone. I use a black marker and write the number anew every morning. Recently, I began asking the world to join me in putting tape on, just as I do. It is a symbol of solidarity in our fractured world. I am calling on all people, of all religions, races, nationalities and ages to join me.
In our world that has so much suffering now, in so many places and in so many ways, this is a simple way for all of us to unite and say... enough. Enough suffering for people on both sides of conflict. Enough tears. Enough bloodshed. Enough pain. Enough.
The first step toward compassion is unity. The first step in unity is solidarity. And the first step to solidarity can be a symbol.
Join me in my symbol of a mother in pain. Just as Mother Mary cried, I too cry for our fractured world.
I pray and believe salvation for Hersh and the other beloved hostages will come soon; and for all the thousands of innocent people suffering in Gaza. The time has come. Amen. May it be so.
By Rachel Goldberg