Rachel Goldberg-Polin, Mother of Hostage Hersh Goldberg-Polin, Makes Time100 List of Most Influential People – Kveller
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Rachel Goldberg-Polin, Mother of Hostage Hersh Goldberg-Polin, Makes Time100 List of Most Influential People

She was honored for her tireless work trying to free her son and the 133 hostages still remaining in Gaza.

Rachel Goldberg, mother of Hersh Goldberg Polin, who was hostage held by Palestinian militant group Hamas, talks during a press briefing during an event to mark the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, at the United Nations Offices, in Geneva, on December 12, 2023. Thousands of civilians, both Palestinians and Israelis, have died since October 7, 2023, after Palestinian Hamas militants based in the Gaza Strip entered southern Israel in an unprecedented attack triggering a war declared by Israel on Hamas with retaliatory bombings on Gaza.

via Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP via Getty Images

Rachel Goldberg-Polin, the intrepid mother of Hersh Goldberg-Polin, one of the 133 hostages still being held in Gaza, made it to the TIME100 list, along with Yulia Navalnaya, America Ferrera and Mark Cuban. There are a handful of other Jewish representatives on the list, including music producer Jack Antonoff, Jewish dad and Mattel CEO Yinon Kreiz, comedian Alex Edelman, author James McBride, Norah Weinstein, the co-CEO of Baby2Baby, and Jewish mom and comedian Maya Rudolph.

Goldberg-Polin, a dual American and Israeli citizen, makes the list for her tireless work to get her son and the rest of the hostages back home. Hersh, 23, was at the Nova party when the Hamas October 7 attack happened. He and his friends tried to hide, but Hersh was eventually captured by Hamas militants and taken into Gaza. The last time Rachel saw him alive was in a video taken on the day of the attack, in which Hersh is being forced onto a vehicle by Hamas. One of his arms was blown off from the elbow.

In her heart-wrenching mission to get her son back, Goldberg-Polin has traveled across the world. She’s met with President Biden and Elon Musk, and even the pope. It was the latter who helped her regain some perspective on humanity.

“I felt very lucky and privileged to get to meet the pope. He’s such a meaningful, influential figure in the world, not just to Catholics. I’ve been feeling this really painful approach to humanity since October 7, this feeling that humans had failed,” Goldberg-Polin told JTA in December. “We have this cognitive dissonance between who we think humans are and who we really are and I was really losing my hope in humanity. He was the one who actually said to me, ‘What you have all been through is true terrorism, and terrorism is the lack of humanity.’ And all of a sudden, it was like I had this switch where I realized, Oh, OK, so what we’ve experienced was the lack of humanity. It wasn’t that humans aren’t good. It’s that this was a moment where humanity wasn’t present.”

Polin-Goldberg, who spoke at the UN and in Geneva, shared that part of what helps her continue her activism is not actively thinking of what might be happening to Hersh in captivity. Instead, she talks to him in her mind.

“I try not to think about how he’s being held. It’s not helpful to me and it’s not helpful to him.” Polin-Goldberg told JTA. “Because if I’m devastated, if I’m terrified, I can’t be as high-functioning and as effective as I am. I’m praying for him all day long. And in my quiet moments, I’m always talking to him and I’m always saying the mantra, I love you, stay strong, survive. I love you, stay strong, survive. I’m always singing the different songs that we would sing. That helps me get through.”

In a recent interview with CNN, Goldberg-Polin said that while she is grateful to the Biden administration for their support, “six months [being held captive] is actually a complete failure on everybody’s part, and I actually include in that myself as a parent, that I have not been able to save my son.” She continued, saying that as parents, “our job is to keep our children safe, and when they get in a situation when they’re not safe, our job is to save them. I feel that I have failed, I feel that our governments have failed, and I feel that all the parties at the tables have failed to get these 133 souls home.”

“I want to thank TIME for my inclusion on the TIME100 and for recognizing the significance and gravity of the hostage crisis and the need for the world to advocate on their behalf, until each one is returned home,” Goldberg-Polin shared on social media.

“I pray this platform will help compel the world not to forsake these remaining 133 souls, who hail from 25 countries, 5 religions and range in age from 15 months to 86 years old, and who have now been held captive in Gaza for 194 days,” she continued, “We must not turn a blind eye to the suffering of these human beings, along with the suffering of all innocents in Gaza.”

We are praying that she is reunited with Hersh soon.

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