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Campaigning parents of Israeli hostage's message to the Church

by Will Hobbs
HERSH.png - Banner image
The Times of Israel

The mother of an Israeli hostage, who's led an international campaign for their return, says she's been sustained by the book of Psalms and the Christian community.

Rachel Goldberg's son Hersh, 23, whose left arm was destroyed in the October 7th attacks by a grenade explosion in a tightly packed bomb shelter, was filmed being loaded on a truck to Gaza by Hamas terrorists and is believed to still be alive.

"They told us that Hersh's left arm from the elbow down had been blown off", his mother told journalist Paul Calvert.

"He had something tied around the stump. They didn't know if it was a t-shirt or a piece of fabric; they didn't know what that was.

"And three young men, at least three, were marched out and put on a Hamas pickup truck that headed toward Gaza."

CNN journalist Anderson Cooper discovered the footage, which confirmed this testimony, on a GoPro that had fallen from a Hamas gunman as he was filming a documentary about the music festival massacre.

Goldberg and her husband John have spearheaded a 'Bring Them Home' campaign, which has included a discussion with Elon Musk and Pope Francis.

Of the 242 people taken on October 7th, Rachel says 134 hostages, representing 19 different nations and aged between one and 86 years old, remain captive.

"If that exact demographic that I just described, had been kidnapped, and taken to Dallas, Texas, the whole world would have shown up just like that soccer team of young boys from Thailand who somehow got trapped in a cave somewhere. And the whole world showed up to try to help save them.

"I think that tragic misfortune for that for the group of hostages that were taken is that they're being held in a place that is a very complicated place that does have a loaded background; we have had problems for many years with our neighbours in Gaza.

"Now it's a complete humanitarian crisis. Thousands of innocent Gazan civilians who are suffering horribly. And I think that these things are being conflated together. It is so unfortunate and tragic for these hostages who were just pawns in a game, as are these innocent Gazan civilians who are pawns in a game as well."

Through the life-changing trauma of her son's capture, Goldberg, an Orthodox Jew, says the love of the Christian community and the relatability of the book of Psalms have proved hugely strengthening.

"I am constantly saying different Psalms, which I find very helpful," Goldberg said. "I've said that I feel like Psalms is a self-help book because you can pick out the one that speaks to you in that moment. And, of course, there are psalms of praise. But there are also psalms of saying, 'Where are you? Don't hide your face from me, God, I'm suffering. I'm in the darkness. And I need you. Where are you?' And so that's very validating.

"I will be forever eternally grateful to our Christian friends and neighbours around the world of all different brands of Christianity that have reached out to embrace us and embrace Hersh and the other hostages and to pray for them. I have people who are in constant touch with me sending me different songs they're saying. Christmas Eve was beautiful; we received thousands and thousands of photographs of people's Christmas dinners with an empty plate that had Hersh's name on it.

"Keep holding us up and praying for our strength to keep going. There are parents who are in such a bad place. Wives and parents and grandparents and children of hostages and they're having trouble functioning, they can pray for their strength.

"I believe in the power of prayer. I know it works. I feel it working and I really believe that Hersh will come home."

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