Rachel Goldberg, whose son Hersh Goldberg-Polin, was abducted to Gaza by Hamas, spoke to Israel National News - Arutz Sheva.

“60 days of fear and uncertainty – it's actually nauseating and horrifying. When I was writing the number today; every day I write the number and put it on my shirt. Every day we go and we change the number on our porch. We have a huge sign on our porch where we change the number every day. I think every mother of every single kidnapped person feels similarly that we're living in another galaxy. There is no language that I know of on Earth that can accurately describe the agony and despair and fear and trauma that all of us are experiencing, It's not just the mothers. It's anyone who's a loved one of any of these kidnapped people.”

On taking action to bring the hostages back home, Rachel describes that “on the first day we knew that there was a crisis situation in the country and we felt that we could not wait for anyone to come and help us. Already by noon or 1:00 on October 7th we had 15 people in our house, activated as a team to help us start to try to save the lives of Hersh, his friend who he was with, Aner Shapira, who unfortunately we were not successful with and any of the other people who we knew were in severe trouble. Of course, at the time we didn't realize the extent of the massacre that was taking place in the South, but since then every single day for the last 60 days, when we get out of bed, the first thing we say is ‘well, we failed, because they're not home.’ Then we hit the ground running and we do every single thing all day long. We keep going for 18-20 hours a day, as much as we can do. We turn over every stone, we'll talk to anyone who wants to talk to us. We throw darts in every direction, and we do every single thing that we can possibly do to save Hersh’s life and the lives of the other hostages.”

Watching the release of the hostages over the past week, Rachel says that “we had been told before the first original list that those 50 people were going to be women, children, babies, so there was no pressure on us of thinking could it be Hersh. We knew that it wasn't going to be Hersh. We agreed that women and children – it made sense to us. We even said Hersh would also want that, so what it ended up being was the first sliver of hope and light that we had had in 50 days. Each day we were excited to see people coming back, because during this period the giant family of 240 hostage families have come to know each other. We were excited each day to say ‘oh my gosh, thank God, Yair's niece is coming back, his sister came back, Moshe's daughter, his wife is back. It was like finally feeling this feeling of being able to breathe a little bit. We were extremely hopeful and happy and writing messages to our friends, who we've made through this dark period.”

On military action to bring back the hostages, Rachel added, “The entire time that those ceasefire deals were happening last week, I kept saying each day, ‘you know, everything was held together by the most fragile and thin of threads and I was aware that at any moment things could fall apart. Dealing with a lot of different parties, with a lot of different interests, with a lot of different personalities; everything just seemed extremely fragile. I'm not a military strategist and I'm not a politician, I am simply the mother of Hersh, who is my only son and of course I am very concerned about his life, his well-being, I know that he's been grievously maimed. He's permanently disabled without his left arm. I know he is in tremendous pain. I know he is in discomfort. I know he's been kept in terrible condition and so obviously as a mother you can imagine. Think of your own mother, what she would be feeling if that was you and so from that angle, it's exceptionally indescribably agonizing. I'm also just concerned about anyone who is in a precarious position and can be hurt, because of what’s going on, whether those are our civilians who are there being kept hostage, Gazan civilians who are in harm’s way. Our brave soldiers who are trying to save us. It's a very scary situation.”

Several of Hersh’s friends from his high school are currently fighting in Gaza, as well as several soldiers who have been killed. Rachel says, “it's heartbreaking. It's sickening to us; it's absolutely sickening to us, the losses of these brave good young people. There are no words, there are no words and it just so crushing for us.”

On the international arena, Rachel claims that “it's an interesting question, because I actually turned to Jon on October 7th, late in the day, when people started to realize that there were so many kidnapped, that were babies and elderly and I actually said to him on the 7th, ‘I said they have our babies and they have our Bubbies, and the world is still going to hate us.’ I said that on the 7th. What I've learned about the world; first of all, I think that the younger generation no longer gets their news directly. They do not listen to news that is on any network or cable. Young people get their news in 10-second increments on Instagram or TikTok, and when you only see images coming out from one side, you are sympathetic as a human being. When I see images coming out of Gaza, I am also sympathetic. I don't want to see humans who are seemingly innocent, children who are crushed under rubble and I think part of what we've been struggling with in Israel is that we have decided, out of respect to the families, not to be sharing photos and that reel, the video, the 47-minute video, and I understand why we're not sharing that. However, we've been really traveling the world and people keep asking me why Israel isn’t showing anything. We see all of these images from one side, and we don't see images from Israel's side. Again, I'm not a strategist who understands the complexities of how you put that out in the world, but I do understand that people are at a loss to appreciate what actually happened on October 7th.”

Rachel has met world leaders, who are “very sympathetic and open to hearing what I have to say. You know I met with the Pope. I actually found him to be very sympathetic. He redefined something for me, which sounds so simple, but I actually found it very comforting. He said to me ‘what you have experienced is terrorism.’ He said this to our group of 12 people in the room. He said ‘you have experienced terrorism. Terrorism is the absence of humanity’ and that was very important for me to hear, because I wasn't defining it that way and it was helpful to hear that.”

When Rachel met Elon Musk last week at President Herzog's residence, she “also found him to be shocked and open to hearing our stories. I was there with three other families, and I felt that, first of all, I thought that it was a big move to say ‘I don't understand what's happening there, I'm going to get on a plane and go see for myself.’ I've spoken with President Biden who was unbelievably supportive and empathetic to all of us. We've spoken to Antony Blinken who was also wonderful. All of Congress; the administration and even at the UN. When I spoke a while back at the UN, we met with diplomats who were extremely open, supportive and patient in hearing our story and I think that it's an important thing that there's a lot of screaming going on, which I appreciate and I understand. There's tremendous anger, tremendous grief, tremendous trauma, and everyone deals with it differently. Everyone deals with it differently, so there's zero judgment on my part. I just happen to not be screaming and as a result from what I've seen, people in the world are willing to listen to what I'm saying and that's also in the non-Jewish world. I spoke to leaders in the black community in America. I was actually asked to speak to a group of African leaders, who came from Africa on a solidarity mission from the Christian community. I've spoken to some people in the multifaith Muslim community and it's very complicated; you know that, I know that. But I think as a mother I need to do every single thing on planet earth to save him. I will talk to anybody, and I will turn over every stone.”

Rachel agrees that people have been sympathetic, but now it’s time for action. “We have even said that. We've made that clear. in the first 48 hours, when you're in shock and horror and you don't even know what you're … we were all just beside ourselves having the support and the right thing said and the empathy and the sympathy was excellent, but we as a hostage community have now said ‘Thank you,’ and now we need action.”

On the group of families she says, “We're not a unified voice necessarily, because I mean we joke about it right. You get two Jews in a room; you get three opinions. So obviously if you get hundreds and hundreds of family members of hundreds of hostages, you're going to have different opinions or different responses to what any leader is suggesting, or any diplomat is saying or any minister is promoting. But definitely on day 60 I can't imagine that anyone in power is thinking that this is acceptable that these people who we know, some of them were shot on the first day and are wounded or, like Hersh, we know that a lot of those young people who were in those bomb shelters because of the nature of being in a tiny room with no windows and having explosives thrown in, we know that a lot of those young people were terribly wounded and it's day 60. We don't even know who still survived. We need to now say ‘it's enough support and giving us love. Pretend this is your son. Pretend it's your daughter,’ and I do think that a lot of leaders would perhaps act differently.”

Rachel continues, “I'd also like to mention that I find it troubling, I think that Noam Dan also mentioned this, and we mentioned this last week as well, you know there are no mothers present in those rooms, where everyone's making these decisions. There's no mother in the war cabinet. There's no mother at the negotiating table in Doha. It makes me think about when I was a little girl. Once my mother took me to work because it was ‘bring your child to work day,’ and I actually suggested last night, I said what would it be like if they said ‘send your mother in place of you to work tomorrow.' Meaning don't bring your mother into the War Room. Send your mother. You stay home and let's see if things would be different if we had a different type of population. Maybe we're not skilled in negotiation and war tactics and maybe that's what we need, because it seems like we've had a few thousand years of men being in charge in doing this and it has not yielded the greatest of results.”

Rachel concluded, “Hersh is a really cool and fun guy; he's just like his mother. I'm just kidding. But what Jewish mother is going to say anything except how wonderful her son is, but Hersh is respectful, curious, funny, with a sarcastic, but not mean, sense of humor. He's a veracious reader, he's obsessed with travel. He loves music. He's a diehard Hapoel Yerushalyim soccer fan. He's a sympathetic person and I hope you get to meet him someday.”