Rachel Goldberg-Polin

2 minute read
By Yasmeen Serhan
Updated: | Originally published:

Bring them home now. This has been the Israeli public’s rallying cry since Oct. 7, when Hamas militants killed some 1,200 people and took 240 more hostage into Gaza. For Rachel Goldberg-Polin, the call is personal: her 23-year-old son, Hersh Goldberg-Polin, is counted among the people still being held captive.

In hopes of seeing him again, Goldberg-Polin has become one of the most visible advocates for the hostages and their families. She has met with dozens of world leaders, including President Biden. (Her son, like Goldberg-Polin and her husband, is a dual American-Israeli citizen.) She has addressed the U.N. in New York City and Geneva. She has even had an audience with the Pope.

In one video from the Oct. 7 attack, Hersh is seen being forced onto a truck by Hamas militants, his left arm blown off from the elbow. His family has had no update on his wellbeing since, and every day that passes without news extends the seemingly interminable limbo that hers and so many other hostage families now find themselves in. But Goldberg-Polin hasn’t given up. “Hope is mandatory,” she said in a recent interview. “I believe it, and I have to believe it, that he will come back to us.”

Serhan is a TIME staff writer

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