Parents of hostage Hersh Goldberg-Polin launch ‘Week of Goodness’

Family aims to increase kindness, good deeds and generosity in the world in order to help bring about the redemption of 116 remaining October 7 hostages held by Hamas in Gaza

Jessica Steinberg, The Times of Israel's culture and lifestyles editor, covers the Sabra scene from south to north and back to the center

Hostage families attend a ceremony of writing a Torah scroll at the gravesite of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai in Meron, in northern Israel on March 10, 2024 (Photo by David Cohen/Flash90)
Hostage families attend a ceremony of writing a Torah scroll at the gravesite of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai in Meron, in northern Israel on March 10, 2024 (Photo by David Cohen/Flash90)

Rachel Goldberg-Polin and Jon Polin are launching a “Week of Goodness” campaign, with the hope that extra kindness, good deeds and generosity in the world could help bring about the release of the 116 hostages remaining in Gaza, among them their son Hersh Goldberg-Polin.

Jewish observance includes the idea that acts of loving kindness can redeem and humanize the world.

The Week of Goodness campaign will take place July 14 through 21, with opportunities to volunteer, study, give money to charity, pray, sing, bake challah and help dedicate a new Torah scroll.

“We are living in a fractured time, and our beloved hostages are in unimaginable darkness — this campaign is aimed at helping us bring more light into the world,” said Goldberg-Polin. “Since October 7, we and all the other hostage families have been running to the ends of the earth in an effort to meet anyone who might be able to help us save our son Hersh and the other hostages. For one week, we will focus inwards and on our communities to further our efforts towards freeing our loved ones from captivity.”

The first event will take place on Sunday, July 14, with an evening of communal singing with Polin and Goldberg-Polin at Tel Aviv’s Hostages Square and other locations.

Monday, July 15, will bring a worldwide day of study, led by the Goldberg-Polins, with the aim of completing the entire Hebrew Bible in 24 hours. Participants can dedicate 15 minutes of Torah learning over the course of the 24 hours between Sunday, July 14, 8 p.m. and Monday, July 15, at 8 p.m.

Jon Polin (left) and Rachel Goldberg-Polin, parents of hostage Hersh Goldberg-Polin, speak to Channel 12 news, April 25, 2024. (Channel 12 screenshot: used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

There will be a celebratory completion ceremony of the Torah study day via Zoom, on July 15.

Supporters can also volunteer in their communities to support the hostages, and either join in volunteering efforts in the Jerusalem area, where the Goldberg-Polins live, or create a volunteering opportunity where they live.

On Thursday, July 18, participants can take part in a hafrashat challah ceremony, a practice traditionally carried out by women who bake challah bread for Shabbat.

Communities around the world have performed this deed over the last months in ceremonies commemorating the hostages. During the Week of Goodness, each of the remaining hostages will be honored with a hafrashat challah event during which their stories will be shared.

It is believed that 116 hostages abducted by Hamas on October 7 remain in Gaza — though the IDF has confirmed the deaths of 42 of them — after 105 civilians were released from Hamas captivity during a weeklong truce in late November, and four hostages were released prior to that. Seven hostages have been rescued by troops alive, and the bodies of 19 hostages have also been recovered, including three mistakenly killed by the Israeli military.

Hostage families write the finishing letters in a new Torah scroll dedicated to the return of the hostages and in memory of the civilians and soldiers killed on October 7 at the Western Wall on November 21, 2023. (Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The family of hostage Hersh Goldberg-Polin and their extended community are also commissioning the writing of a new Torah, and invite the public to join them to welcome the new scroll into their synagogue on Thursday, July 18, at 8 p.m., beginning at 37 Yehuda Street in Jerusalem and ending at the Baka Community Center at 3 Issachar Street.

The Week of Goodness will end with a Kabbalat Shabbat service, welcoming the Sabbath at the Hostages and Missing Families Forum tent in Jerusalem at 4 p.m. on July 19 at Paris Square in Jerusalem.

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