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Parents of hostage Hersh Goldberg-Polin to launch ‘Week of Goodness’

“We live in such a fractured world, in such a dark chapter, that we thought now is the time to try to improve the situation,” said mother Rachel Goldberg-Polin. 

Hersh Goldberg-Polin. Credit: Courtesy of the Goldberg-Polin family.
Hersh Goldberg-Polin. Credit: Courtesy of the Goldberg-Polin family.

The parents of American-Israeli hostage Hersh Goldberg-Polin will launch on Sunday a “Week of Goodness” to bring global attention to the plight of the remaining 120 captives held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

“The ‘Week of Goodness’ is universal. Our work and activities are broad enough that both Jews and non-Jews all over the world can join or do their own thing simultaneously and post about it,” father Jon Polin told JNS on Tuesday.

Hersh‘s left arm was blown off at the elbow by a grenade while trying to evade capture after fleeing the Supernova music festival near Kibbutz Re’im on Oct. 7.  

Hersh Goldberg-Polin
Israeli-American hostage Hersh Goldberg-Polin, 23, who has been held captive in the Gaza Strip since the Hamas terrorist attacks in southern Israel on Oct. 7, in a propaganda video released by the terror organization on April 24, 2024. Source: Screenshot/X.

“We are saying that even if you are people who do good in the world, do more and do it with extra intention. There is something for everybody,” Jon Polin added.

The campaign, from July 14-21, will include an evening of communal singing at Tel Aviv’s “Hostages Square,” a Jewish Bible study session, accessible to the public via Zoom, and various volunteer activities.

An effort will be made to stage 120 mini-events, each one focused on an individual hostage, featuring the Jewish ritual of Hafrashat Challah, in which portions of bread loaves are separated before being baked.

Jon and his wife, Rachel Goldberg-Polin, are also commissioning the writing of a new Torah scroll and will participate in a Kabbalat Shabbat (ushering in the Sabbath) at the hostage families’ tent in Jerusalem on July 19. 

Rachel Goldberg-Polin
Rachel Goldberg-Polin, the mother of the American-Israeli hostage Hersh Golderg-Polin, calls for the release of the hostages being held in the Gaza Strip as the United Nations celebrates the 75th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration for Human Rights in Geneva. Credit: Nathan Chicheportiche/Permanent Mission of Israel in Geneva.

“We live in such a fractured world, in such a dark chapter, that we thought now is the time to repair with goodness to try to improve the situation,” Hersh’s mother, Rachel, told JNS on Tuesday.

With Hamas holding citizens from 23 countries and five religions, Rachel said the initiative should remind interfaith leaders and global decision-makers to join their effort. 

“They should feel positively motivated to join in the ‘Week of Goodness’ since it is not at all political,” she said. 

On Monday, she took part in a march at the Knesset marking nine months since Hamas’s invasion and massacre of 1,200 people in southern Israel.

“It’s not lost on any of us, especially mothers who have carried children, that nine months represents the time from conception to full-term pregnancy,” she told JNS.

“That symbol is excruciatingly painful for us mothers, culminating in the march. The agony was so palpable that it was like a thick layer of oozing pain that was shellacking each of us, it was so thick that it was hard to breathe and hard to walk,” she added. 

The “Week of Goodness” campaign comes as mediators are working to revive the phased ceasefire outline presented by U.S. President Joe Biden in May, which calls for an initial “full and complete” six-week truce during which dozens of Israeli hostages—women, the elderly and the ill—would be exchanged for hundreds of Palestinian terrorists.

“So many people around us say something feels different, but until it’s done, until Hersh and all the other hostages are released, we’re not going to take our foot off the gas,” Jon Polin told JNS.

“Unfortunately, we’ve learned over the past 277 days that beyond everything else that can be said about our region, it is so fragile. While people feel like this time is different, in one second everything can fall apart for a million different reasons, so we are not resting,” he added. 

Hersh Goldberg-Polin and Rachel Goldberg
Rachel Goldberg and her son, Hersh Goldberg-Polin. Credit: Courtesy of Rachel Goldberg.

On Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu specified Jerusalem’s red lines in the ceasefire negotiations, including the ability to resume fighting until all war goals have been met; an end to arms smuggling into Gaza through Egypt; no return of “thousands” of terrorists to northern Gaza; and maximizing the number of living hostages released.

Israel Security Agency chief Ronen Bar departed for Cairo on Monday to continue the talks. Mossad Director David Barnea is expected to fly to Doha on Wednesday to meet with his CIA counterpart, William Burns, Egyptian intelligence chief Maj. Gen. Abbas Kamel and Qatari Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani.

“Our message has not changed. Too much time has passed and the world should not be tolerating this,” said Jon Polin. “Where are the leaders of those 23 countries? How have we not seen them walk arm-in-arm on stages in Jerusalem, New York or Berlin saying this isn’t okay?

“Our message is to try to shake the world into action to get this deal done; get it to the finish line. Start to bring out these hostages who deserve to be home already,” he concluded.

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