Hersh Goldberg-Polin resembles many other teenagers.
The 23-year-old Jerusalem resident has a passion for music, a desire to travel, and plans to attend college after completing his military service. He must first return home, though.
Goldberg-Polin was last seen on October 7, when Hamas militants carried him and other hostages from a music festival where at least 260 people were slaughtered into the back of a pickup.
Rachel Goldberg, his mother, still anticipates his return. “He’s a survivor,” Goldberg said of her son, whose smile glows in family photos from beneath a scant, boyish beard. He’s not like this enormous, hulking person, you know.
But I believe that your mental state is really important in terms of survival, she continued. Goldberg-Polin was born in Berkeley, California, and his family emigrated to Israel when he was 7 years old. He spent hours poring over maps and atlases as a boy, trying to memorize the names of mountains and capital cities since he was curious about the world.
Later, he developed a love for psychedelic trance music and once traveled for nine weeks through six European nations to attend raves.
It is therefore not surprising that he went to the Supernova music festival with several pals, which is touted as a location “where the essence of unity and love combine forces with the best music.”
Gunmen who invaded Israel from the adjacent Gaza Strip destroyed that atmosphere. Witnesses claimed that Goldberg-Polin suffered partial arm loss when the assailants threw explosives into a makeshift shelter where people had sought cover, but he managed to wrap a tourniquet around it and exit the building before being loaded into the vehicle.
The “Bring Hersh Home” campaign has been formed by family and friends on social media in the hopes that he will still be able to embark on a planned backpacking journey through southern Asia.
I want someone to help, and I want someone to help all of those hostages, but it will take the biggest heroism, bravery, and guts.