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More than four months ago — on Oct. 7, 2023 — American-Israeli Hersh Goldberg-Polin, 23, hid with his childhood friend, Staff Sgt. Aner Shapira, 22, along with 29 other young people in a tiny roadside bomb shelter as Hamas terrorists stormed the Supernova music festival in southern Israel. 

At dawn, rockets went off and armed terrorists descended upon the Negev desert from motorized paragliders. 

They raped women and massacred some 1,200 people in Israel that day, including 367 of the over 3,000 people who attended the festival.

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Goldberg-Polin sent his mother, Rachel Goldberg, two text messages that morning. One said, "I love you," and the other said, "I’m sorry." 

Goldberg told Fox News Digital in a phone interview recently, "He was just starting his life. We pray to God he's going to come home."

Hersh Goldberg-Polin

Hersh Goldberg-Polin was injured and abducted by Hamas terrorists in southern Israel on Oct. 7, 2023. Fox News Digital recently spoke to his mother, Rachel Goldberg, who said, "We pray to God he's going to come home." (Courtesy Goldberg-Polin family)

It's her faith that's kept her going through the hardest of times, she revealed in a sometimes emotional interview. 

‘A different universe'

Goldberg and her husband live in Israel (they were both born and raised in Chicago). They have three children — their son Hersh was born in California. The family moved to Israel when he was nearly eight years old. 

She'd seen her son in Jerusalem the night before the act of terrorism, at a Shabbat dinner after synagogue, Goldberg recounted. 

"Around 11 p.m., he kissed me, and he kissed my husband, and he said, ‘Love you guys. See you tomorrow.’" 

She learned the grim details of what happened to her son and his friend from four survivors who were trapped beneath dead bodies in the same bomb shelter as her son. 

When the terrorists threw hand grenades into the shelter, Shapira heroically threw seven of them back out. But the eighth exploded in his hands — killing him. 

Hamas terrorists in Israel

This image made from undated bodycam video footage taken by a downed Hamas terrorist and released by Israel Defense Forces shows a Hamas terrorist walking around a residential neighborhood at an undisclosed location in southern Israel.  (Israel Defense Forces via AP)

More grenades were tossed into the shelter and gunfire went off. Eighteen people were murdered in that rampage alone.

Terrorists wielding machine guns then ordered Hersh Goldberg-Polin and two other wounded young men into a pickup truck outside. 

"He was not screaming. He was obviously in shock."

When Goldberg-Polin stood up, survivors reported seeing that his left arm had been blown off from the elbow down. 

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Rachel Goldberg and her husband, Jon Polin, later saw video footage from the festival of their son getting into the truck. 

Goldberg told Fox News Digital, "He was not screaming. He was obviously in shock. You can see that his arm is blown off … He tied some sort of bandage, with a T-shirt or something around it. He gets himself onto the truck by himself, and when he turns to sit down you can see the stump where his arm used to be." 

Goldberg-Polin family

Hersh Goldberg-Polin, left, pictured with his parents, Rachel Goldberg and Jon Polin. He has been held captive since Oct. 7, 2023. His parents have been strongly advocating for his release and the release of all the hostages ever since.  (Courtesy Goldberg-Polin family)

The distraught mother added, "We have been living in a different universe since."

The last cellphone signal from her son's phone was at 10:25 a.m. that Saturday, she said.

‘Hope is mandatory’

Hersh Goldberg-Polin is one of over 240 people who were abducted by Hamas; 45 of them were taken from the music festival. 

It is believed that as of right now, over 130 hostages are still being held in Gaza. The youngest is apparently a one-year-old baby.

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Rachel Goldberg is modern Orthodox. She credits her faith and her relationship with God for helping her persevere through the emotional pain, fear and uncertainty she is experiencing.

"God has faith in us, and gives us another chance to have another day to [create] meaning in our lives." 

"When you’re a believer, hope is mandatory," she said. 

She recites the Modeh Ani prayer upon awakening to show her gratitude to God, she told Fox News Digital. 

mother and son Goldberg-Polin family

Goldberg with her son, Hersh. Ever since Oct. 7, she's been reading a psalm each day that corresponds with the number of days her son has been held hostage by Hamas, she told Fox News Digital. (Courtesy Goldberg-Polin family)

"It's a one-line prayer that just says, ‘Thank you for giving my life back to me, for returning my soul to me, and for having faith in me.’" 

She added, "I love that idea that God has faith in us, and gives us another chance to have another day to [create] meaning in our lives." 

The devoted mom reads psalms throughout the day, which she said strengthens her. 

"I think of Psalms as a self-help book, because you can pick whichever one speaks to you in that moment."

"I think of Psalms as a self-help book, because you can pick whichever one speaks to you in that moment," she said. 

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"Some of the psalms are saying, ‘Hallelujah, you're amazing,’ and some of them are saying, ‘I'm at the bottom of a pit. Where are you? Why are you hiding your face from me? Help me, help me!’" 

Psalm 23 reminds her that God is with her, she said. "'Even though I’m going through the shadow of scary things, I know that you're with me,'" she said. "It's a really great tool for people who are in the midst of something really difficult."

She also summarized Psalm 121 as, "I’m calling out to you from the depths." 

After Oct. 7, she said she has been reading a psalm each day that corresponds with the number of days her son has been held hostage.

‘Don’t need two arms to travel'

Rachel Goldberg's voice both lifted and broke as she spoke about her son to Fox News Digital. 

She described his humor as "sarcastic without being mean," and said he always adhered to the commandment of being respectful toward his parents. 

He's a voracious reader who loves music, playing soccer and camping, she said. 

Hersh Goldberg-Polin and his sisters

Hersh Goldberg-Polin (far right) as a child, with his sisters. He was planning to travel for at least another year when he was abducted, said his mother.  (Goldberg-Polin family)

Since the age of 15, he's been active in Hapoel Jerusalem, an organization that hosts youth coexistence activities, such as soccer games featuring Jewish and Arab kids playing together.

When he was in first grade, her son asked for his subscription to National Geographic Kids to be upgraded to the regular National Geographic, she said. 

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Always curious about exploring different places, he traveled to six European countries for nine weeks by himself last summer, attending music festivals and meeting people from all over the world. 

He was planning to travel for at least another year when he was abducted, said his mother. 

Freeing the captives is the most important mitzvah (commandment), according to Jewish tradition, said Goldberg. 

She said she prays that he'll "get the help that he needs, that he'll get the new arm that he needs — and that he will take that trip around the world, because you don't need two arms to travel," she added. 

Goldberg believes the hostage situation in Gaza is a global humanitarian crisis, she said, and that freeing the captives is the most important mitzvah (commandment), according to Jewish tradition. 

Hersh Goldberg-Polin as a child

Hersh Goldberg-Polin as a child. "There's a moment in everyone's life where it's time to stand up and be brave," said mother Rachel Goldberg. "In a crisis, that's when really who you are comes out, and it's when who you are will be remembered." (Courtesy Goldberg-Polin family)

She said that even if it’s scary to get involved, "there's a moment in everyone's life where it's time to stand up and be brave … In a crisis, that's when really who you are comes out, and it's when who you are will be remembered."

She and her husband came up with the idea of an educational initiative to advocate for the hostages in Gaza, and to raise awareness about how freedom from captivity is a basic universal human right for every innocent person around the globe. 

'Everyone Counts'

Jewish educational organizations, M²: The Institute for Experiential Jewish Education, and Kol HaOt — in partnership with The Jewish Education Project — brought this idea to life by launching the website Everyone Counts on Jan. 14, 2024 — which marked 100 days of captivity for the hostages. 

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The day after the site launched was Martin Luther King Jr. Day — and the Everyone Counts site displayed his quotes noting staunch support for Israel, democracy, freedom and peace that people could publicize. 

Photos of "The Abducted Hearts" exhibit in Ness Ziona, Israel, show life-size black iron silhouettes of the hostages with empty hearts cut out, illustrating the harrowing emotional effects of their captivity. 

Jon Polin and his son

Jon Polin, left, with his son, Hersh Goldberg-Polin, who is still a captive of terrorists in Gaza. Freedom from captivity is a basic universal human right for every innocent person around the globe, Jon Polin and his wife Rachel Goldberg believe.  (Courtesy Goldberg-Polin family)

The Everyone Counts site also links to other sites such as Listen to Moms — which offers support for mothers from 25 different countries who have been advocating for the release of the infants and children abducted by Hamas on Oct. 7.

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There are simple steps listed on the website that people can follow, such as taking one minute a day to contact their members of Congress, or wearing a yellow ribbon, a symbol of hope for freedom for the hostages. 

The display of this symbol in public signals to the families of hostages that their loved ones have not been forgotten.

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Every act of advocacy can be dedicated to a particular hostage, the site also notes. 

No’a Gorlin, COO at M², stated, "Everyone Counts is about knowing the people, and knowing each person — it’s not just some story out there. This is very personal. These are people, these are individuals, these are lives. Each one is a story and a world in and of itself."

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