update deskOctober 7

Mother of Gaza hostage calls on world Jewry to act

"Now is the time to save 134 innocent souls," Rachel Goldberg-Polin said.

Rachel Goldberg-Polin speaking at the Heschel Conference on Jewish Peoplehood and Israel-Diaspora Relations at the National Library in Jerusalem, March 20, 2024. Photo by Asi Efrati/Tadmi.
Rachel Goldberg-Polin speaking at the Heschel Conference on Jewish Peoplehood and Israel-Diaspora Relations at the National Library in Jerusalem, March 20, 2024. Photo by Asi Efrati/Tadmi.

Rachel Goldberg-Polin, whose son Hersh is being held captive by Hamas in Gaza, on Wednesday pleaded for Jews in the Diaspora to advocate for the release of all the abductees

“Now is the time for the Diaspora community to speak resolutely and with conviction to the men who are in power who will be deciding the destiny and identity of the Jewish people going forward forever more,” Goldberg-Polin said in a speech at a World Zionist Organization conference in Jerusalem.

“We stand here at a crossroads from which we can never undo this next choice. Now is the time for the Diaspora to tell the leaders of this country who are not thinking straight because they are still speaking from a place of continual, unending, throbbing, sharp, ongoing guilt-ridden trauma: This is the time to act the most holy we the Jewish people have ever acted in our history.

“This is the time to do something out of the ordinary, the likes of which have never been seen in any people’s history. Now is the time to save 134 innocent souls for no other reason except that it is holy, and it is the most Jewish response to October 7 that can possibly be done,” Rachel Goldberg-Polin said.

Hersh Goldberg-Polin, 23, was one of 253 people taken hostage by Hamas during its onslaught in the northwestern Negev on Oct. 7, in which some 1,200 people, mostly civilians, were killed and thousands more wounded. Goldberg-Polin’s left arm was blown off from the elbow down when the bomb shelter he was hiding in was attacked.

His cell phone was last tracked at 10:25 a.m. on Oct. 7, inside the Gaza Strip.

She spoke at the second Heschel Conference on Jewish Peoplehood and Israel-Diaspora Relations, held at the National Library in Jerusalem. More than 500 people participated in this year’s conference. The theme was Jewish peoplehood in times of war.

“What binds us together as Jews is Jewish peoplehood: that we’re one global family that shares one fate no matter where we live, what synagogue we worship in, or our politics. It’s neither a coincidence nor the result of politics that Jews worldwide have faced a horrifying wave of antisemitism since October 7,” World Zionist Organization Vice Chairman Dr. Yizhar Hess said.

World Zionist Organization Vice Chair Chairman Dr. Yizhar Hess speaking at the Heschel Conference on Jewish Peoplehood and Israel-Diaspora Relations at the National Library in Jerusalem, March 20, 2024. Photo by Asi Efrati/Tadmit.

“It’s neither a coincidence nor a result of political interests that Jews worldwide have rallied to Israel’s side since that horrible day. These phenomena—good and bad—are the result of the fact that also in the eyes of our enemies, we Jews are bonded together by something deep and enduring. While the story of Zionism is first and foremost the story of Israel, strengthening these bonds of peoplehood—engaging, empowering and protecting Jewish communities both in Israel and around the world—is and must remain a core Zionist value in the 21st century,” Hess said.

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