He's a survivor: A mother fights for son kidnapped by Hamas militants

Hersh Goldberg-Polin is like a lot of other young people

Danica Kirka
Monday 16 October 2023 17:28 BST
Israel Hostages Portraits Goldberg Polin
Israel Hostages Portraits Goldberg Polin (Copyright 2023 The Associated Press All rights reserved)

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Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas


Hersh Goldberg-Polin is like a lot of other young people.

The 23-year-old from Jerusalem loves music, wants to see the world and, now that he’s finished his military service, plans to go to university. But first he has to come home.

Goldberg-Polin was last seen on Oct. 7, when Hamas militants loaded him into the back of a pickup with other hostages abducted from a music festival where at least 260 people were killed.

His mother, Rachel Goldberg, still expects to see him again.

“He’s a survivor,” Goldberg said of her son, whose grin beams out from behind a sparse, youthful beard in family photos. “He’s not like this big, bulky guy. But I think that survival has a lot to do with where you are mentally,” she added.

Born in Berkeley, California, Goldberg-Polin moved to Israel with his family when he was 7 years old.

As a child, he wanted to learn about the world, pouring over maps and atlases to learn the names of capital cities and mountains. Later he became a fan of psychedelic trance music and once took a nine-week trek through six European countries so he could attend a series of raves along the way.

Not surprising then, that he and some friends headed to the Supernova music festival, billed as a place “where the essence of unity and love combines forces with the best music.”

That vibe was shattered by gunmen who stormed into Israel from the nearby Gaza Strip.

Witnesses said Goldberg-Polin lost part of an arm when the attackers tossed grenades into a temporary shelter where people had taken refuge, but he tied a tourniquet around it and walked out of the shelter before being bundled into the truck.

Family and friends have organized the “Bring Hersh Home” campaign on social media, hoping that he will still be able to take a planned backpack trip through southern Asia.

But first his mother hopes someone helps her son.

“It will require like the biggest heroism and strength and courage, but I want someone to help out and I want someone to help all of those hostages.”

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