December 6, 2023

Ten years in the past, we have been getting ready to rejoice the bar mitzvah of our son, Hersh. His Torah portion was the identical because the one Jews all over the world will learn within the coming days — the story of Noah and the way God destroyed a lot of the world with a horrible flood.

However Hersh’s consideration was not on destruction. As an alternative he targeted on how water may save the world. So he swam laps to lift cash for a corporation that digs wells in Africa to offer clear, lifesaving water.

That is the sort of particular person Hersh, our oldest youngster and solely son, is: mild and type and all the time discovering inventive methods to enhance issues and join with different human beings.

That is the person who Hamas terrorists have taken amongst their harmless captives, which embrace youngsters, girls and older individuals.

Hersh was tenting together with his finest good friend at an out of doors music pageant close to Israel’s border with Gaza when Hamas terrorists started firing machine weapons into the group of largely younger adults. An estimated 260 individuals have been killed in that assault. We later came upon Hersh and his mates managed to flee by automobile however the automobile got here underneath rocket hearth. They have been pressured to cease and take cowl in a roadside bomb shelter. Terrorists then attacked the shelter, blowing off Hersh’s arm from the elbow down by machine gun hearth or a grenade or each.

Based on witnesses, Hersh, a 23-year-old American-born U.S. citizen, was then ordered right into a pickup truck by armed Hamas terrorists and pushed towards the Gaza border. The police advised us the final recognized location of his cell phone was on the Gaza border early Saturday afternoon.

I don’t know if he’s useless or alive or if I’ll ever see him once more.

The one factor I do know is that this isn’t the destiny that Hersh or any of the captives, amongst whom are a number of different People, deserves. I’m heartbroken, however the messages of assist pouring in from close to and much make this second heartwarming on the identical time.

I wept this morning receiving messages from his mates in Bremen, Germany, which is residence to SV Werder, the group that has a pleasant relationship with Hersh’s beloved Hapoel Jerusalem soccer group. He befriended these German followers through the years once they visited Jerusalem to observe their group play soccer. Collectively they painted a peace mural with each Arab and Jewish residents close to our residence in Jerusalem, the place we’ve lived since Hersh was 7. Simply 5 weeks in the past, Hersh frolicked with these mates in Germany.

The outreach from these German mates resonates with me particularly as a result of Hersh is called after my grandfather Harold and my great-uncle Hershel, who was killed within the Holocaust. It was stunning for me to be reminded, via these friendships, that for younger Germans and Jews significantly, the world that Hersh has lived in has acknowledged and labored to beat the fear skilled by my great-uncle.

I by no means may have imagined that my son would face something like Hershel confronted.

However that is the brand new world that Hersh and the remainder of us should dwell in now. The Hamas assaults have been essentially the most vicious assaults on Jews for the reason that Holocaust.

I would like issues to return to how they have been earlier than Saturday morning. Earlier than I noticed Hersh’s textual content messages that alerted me he was in grave hazard: “I really like you” and “I’m sorry.” Earlier than Hamas launched its assaults, which have claimed greater than 1,200 harmless lives in Israel and resulted in about 150 harmless hostages being held in Gaza with no foreseeable manner out. Earlier than my son’s telephone was a black field with no reply.

However right here we’re, caught within the terrible current. Time is slowly ticking into the long run, with these hostages approaching every week in captivity. If he’s nonetheless alive, how for much longer can he survive? His wounds are grievous. I hope somebody someplace is being sort to him, caring for him, attending to him.

Hersh is my entire world, and this evil is the flood that’s destroying it. I actually don’t know if something can reserve it. If anybody is aware of, please inform me. To save lots of a life, our sages taught, is to save lots of a world. Please assist me save my son; it can save my world.

Each single particular person in Gaza has a mom, or had a mom in some unspecified time in the future.

And I’d say this, then, as mom to different moms: Should you see Hersh, please assist him. I give it some thought loads. I actually assume I’d assist your son, if he was in entrance of me, injured, close to me.

Rachel Goldberg is a mom of three residing in Jerusalem, the place she works as an educator and a scholar counselor. She is initially from Chicago.

Supply pictures by Jack Guez and Menahem Kahana, through Getty Photographs.

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