War in Israel – A Reflection from Federation Shlicha, Uriel

Originally sent as an email newsletter from Federation Shlicha (Israeli emissary), Uriel Lin, to B’nai Israel Congregation.

It is unbelievable that we are starting this new year when the war is still far from ending.

In four days, on January 14th, we will be marking 100 days of captivity for over 130 Israeli hostages. This number is unbearable, implying tremendous pain as every day is a survival quest.

There isn’t a day that goes by without thinking about them. About the helplessness of their families, who must wake up every morning, knowing their children are under immense torture and suffering.

There are many initiatives dedicated to mentioning this day. I chose to share the initiative of Rachel Goldberg, the mother of Hersh Goldberg-Polin, a 23-year-old American Israeli who was wounded and abducted by Hamas at the Nova party in Re’im.

Hersh was passionate about traveling the world, just like me, and planned to embark on a year-long trip around the world. He had a one-way ticket leaving Israel on December 27, 2023.

On October 7th, after sirens went off, Hersh escaped to a Migunit (a public shelter) with his best friend Aner Shapira. There, they were defending the rest of the civilians hiding by throwing back grenades that were thrown inside. After several grenades were successfully thrown out of the Migunit, one exploded inside killing Aner. Hersh was severely injured, with witnesses describing his left arm was amputated. Hersh was then kidnapped by Hamas. Hersh sent his parents, who are Shabbat observers, two messages: “I love you”, and “I’m sorry”.

Here is his mom’s message:

As the hostages held by Hamas near 100 days of captivity, Rachel Goldberg, the mother of Hamas hostage Hersh Goldberg-Polin, is asking supporters to tape the number 100 on their chests to mark the day.

The Bring Hersh Home campaign is launching “Hostages on the Heart,” hoping to get at least a million people to tape the number 100 to their chest on that day, January 14th.

Please share it with family, friends, and loved ones.

I know many have plans for MLK weekend, but doing something as symbolic as taping the number on our chests shows that we did not forget, and we will not forget until they come back home. That is my only wish for 2024.