Bay Area families wait to see if their loved ones are among hostages released by Hamas

ByTim Johns KGO logo
Friday, November 24, 2023
Bay Area families wait to see which hostages are released by Hamas
A four-day ceasefire between Israel and Hamas has begun and families are waiting to see if their loved ones will be among 50 hostages released.

BERKELEY, Calif. (KGO) -- For the past seven weeks, Jon Polin and Rachel Goldberg have been relentlessly trying to get any information they can about their son Hersh, a Berkeley native.

Back on October 7, Hersh was attending an Israeli music festival near the Gaza border when Hamas militants launched their attack.

MORE: Berkeley man in Washington D.C. to rally in March for Israel in support of hostages

Hersh, along with around 250 others, were taken hostage.

"Forget the details like where is he, what's he eating, who's he with, that would all be nice, but I don't expect to know that. We just want to know proof of life, we want to know if he's alive," Polin said.

With news that a temporary ceasefire along with the release of some hostages has been agreed to, Hersh's parents say they're keeping hope alive.

MORE: Bay Area man hopes for relatives held hostage by Hamas as report says temporary cease-fire in works

A Pacifica resident continues to hold onto hope for relatives held hostage by Hamas as a new report says that a temporary cease-fire deal is underway.

They're one of several American families, including at least two others from the Bay Area, whose relatives have been taken hostage.

"Many of us Jewish community members that are celebrating Thanksgiving this evening are going to have an empty chair at our tables. In recognition symbolically of those, including Americans, that were taken hostage that won't be able to go home to Thanksgiving," said Tyler Gregory.

MORE: 4-day truce begins in Israel-Hamas war, sets stage for release of dozens of Gaza-held hostages

Gregory is the CEO of the Bay Area chapter of the Jewish Community Relations Council.

He tells ABC7 News since the war started, the local Jewish community has been thrown into dual crises: one dealing with the hostages and the other with rising hate.

"We're seeing in our schools, our universities, in the public square, antisemitic chants and swastikas and things like that. And it's certainly adding to the tension that is happening overseas," Gregory said.

MORE: Around 80 protesters arrested after abandoning cars, blocking westbound Bay Bridge, CHP says

One of dozens arrested during the Bay Bridge protest was a mom that was stuck in traffic headed into San Francisco for work.

According to the Anti-Defamation League, antisemitic incidents have risen almost 400 percent in recent weeks.

Despite those figures, Gregory says the community remains resilient.

"This moment, this tragedy, has brought everyone together like I've never seen in my lifetime," he said.

MORE: Pro-Palestinian protesters disrupt Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in NYC

And while Hersh's parents don't know when or if their son will ever be released, they say they'll never stop fighting.

"We won't rest until Hersh and all 238 are home," said Goldberg.

Now Streaming 24/7 Click Here

If you're on the ABC7 News app, click here to watch live