NewsNational NewsScripps News


US hostage's mother urges public to mark his 100th day in captivity

Rachel Goldberg wants the world to join her in taping the number 100 to their shirts to mark 100 days since Hamas kidnapped her son.
US hostage's mother urges public to mark his 100th day in captivity
Posted at 1:31 PM, Jan 12, 2024

It has become a somber ritual.

Every morning, Rachel Goldberg tapes a new number to her chest, signifying the number of days since her son, Hersh Goldberg-Polin, was kidnapped by Hamas. 

"I was in the beginning, often asked, 'What day is it since your son was stolen?' And finally on day 26, I said, 'I'm going to stop answering this. This is now going to be worn on my chest for the world to see,'" Goldberg said.

Now it's been almost 100 days — and Goldberg wants the world to join her in wearing that number on Sunday.

"I pray that we don't get to day 100, but if we do, I don't want to be alone wearing this number anymore," Goldberg said.

Asked if she thought that people outside of Israel are afraid to be seen as supportive of the hostages, Goldberg said she understands if some people feel uncomfortable wearing the number. 

"Put it on your undershirt and then put your sweatshirt over it," she suggested. "Or put it on a piece of paper and put it in your pocket, because somewhere, existentially, it will be helping me know that you have it with you."

From her home in Jerusalem, Goldberg tells Scripps News she has even asked Pope Francis, whom she recently met in Rome, to join the action during his Sunday Mass. 

"We'll see if he's comfortable wearing it, or he might be putting it in his pocket," Goldberg said.

Her son, Goldberg-Polin, is among a handful of American citizens still believed to be held hostage in Gaza.

On Oct. 7, he and other young people escaped the carnage at the Supernova music festival and took cover inside a bomb shelter, which Hamas terrorists attacked with machine guns and grenades. 

Goldberg-Polin managed to survive, but his arm was blown off. 

"The working assumption is that he did have some sort of medical treatment. We understand that Hamas wanted the hostages alive," Goldberg said.

In late November, Hamas released 105 hostages during a weeklong truce. Very few of them had been abducted from the music festival and none have reported seeing Goldberg-Polin while in captivity. "We're in a real galaxy of the unknown. And it's a very angst-ridden place to live," Goldberg said. 

But even in the face of unspeakable anxiety, Goldberg refuses to lose hope, telling Scripps News that the next time they talk she hopes Hersh will be right next to her. 

"And then you'll get to meet him and see that he really is great. I'm not making it up. He's great," said Goldberg.

SEE MORE: Israeli military suggests war with Hamas will last through 2024

Trending stories at