Rachel Goldberg-Polin Shares a Devastating Mother's Day Message – Kveller
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Rachel Goldberg-Polin Shares a Devastating Mother’s Day Message

The mother of hostage Hersh Goldberg-Polin shared a heartbreaking letter that she wrote to her son when he turned 3.

UN Security Council Debate On The Middle East

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On Mother’s Day, which took place the same evening as Israel’s Memorial Day this year, Rachel Goldberg-Polin, whose 23-year-old son, Hersh Goldberg-Polin, is still in captivity in Gaza, shared a letter that she wrote to him on the eve of his third birthday.

In a video on her Instagram, Goldberg-Polin recalled, back in 2003, stroking her son’s curly hair one more time before it would get its ritual first cut a few days later as part of the upsherin, the Jewish tradition of cutting a child’s hair on their third birthday. She stared at him sleeping by his teddy bear, his blue footy pajamas on, and went back into her bedroom and started crying at this milestone that so clearly evoked the passage of time. Her husband Jon, who also went to marvel at their firstborn one more time, had told her then, “There will be many more of these.”

She then reads the letter she wrote to him, which began, “To my very sweetest Hersh,” and detailed how emotional the days before his birthday were. “Every time I turn around I am crying,” she reads, describing how it reminded her of a Yiddish lullaby that goes, “Your mother will cry a thousand tears before you grow to be a man.”

In the letter, Goldberg-Polin wrote about the challenge and beauty of her first three years of motherhood, conjuring up a future in which Hersh has his own children and comes to know too the kind of love that is “so much more than love.”

She talked about how her job as a parent is to make him a “confident, self-sufficient and independent person,” a “healthy person in the world,” and lamented how all these things go against a deep-seated desire to never let him go. “Time moves so quickly,” she shared. She imagined the day of driving him off to college, the impossibility of that goodbye, and marveled at her love for him. “What did dad and I do to get so lucky to have you?” she wrote.

“I wish for you a child like yourself, who will bring to you all the light and delight that you brought to me,” she wrote, before finishing the letter with the priestly blessing, the blessing over the children that many Jews recite every Shabbat.

“Hersh, thank you for making me a mother,” she tells the camera and her son, in hopes that he will see the video one day. (A video of Hersh from captivity, in which he shares loving messages to his family, was shared by Hamas shortly after Passover.)

She finishes with the words she tells him always in these virtual missives: “I love you, stay strong, survive.” She blows a kiss to him and we then see her lay her head down on the table, her body wracked with silent tears, she then wipes her eyes and turns off the camera.

Our hearts go out to Goldberg-Polin after what we know must have been an incredibly hard Mother’s Day. We hope she is reunited with Hersh soon.

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