By: Nissim Farhy  | 

1200 Attend Events Marking Six Months Since Oct. 7; Joined by Former Hostages and Family of Hostages

Around 1200 Yeshiva University students, alumni and faculty gathered in the Lamport Auditorium on the Wilf Campus on Sunday to mark six months since the attacks of Oct. 7 and hear from a rescued captive and family of a current hostage.

Students were addressed by Rachel Goldberg and Jonathan Polin, parents of Hersh Goldberg-Polin, an American-Israeli taken hostage at the Nova Music festival on Oct. 7, and Noberto Louis Har, who was taken captive at Kibbutz Nir Yitzhak and later rescued in an IDF operation in February.

The event, sponsored by the Office of Student Life, Beren Campus Student Government and the Sacks-Herenstein Center for Values and Leadership, was hosted by Vice Provost Erica Brown, director of the Sacks-Herenstein Center, who emphasized the need to renew our commitment to Israel and the hostages. “Six months ago we came together in this very room in hope and prayer,” Brown began. “We will not stop!”

Brown’s remarks were followed by the playing of the Star Spangled Banner and Hatikvah by a group of YU students who led the audience in a number of songs throughout the event, and prayers for the State of Israel, the IDF and the hostages, led by Bentzy Klarfield (YC ‘25), one of the leaders of Operation Torah Shield 3.

Following the prayers, YU President Ari Berman highlighted the actions of YU students since Oct. 7 and spoke about the necessity of the Jewish People coming together for one another in the wake of tragedies.

“In the Torah when our Patriarchs and Matriarchs heard the call of history, they each responded with one word, hineini, which means ‘I am here to serve,’” Berman said. “My dear students … On Oct. 7 history has called on us to stand up and act!”

Goldberg, whose son had been held hostage for 184 days, described the honor he gave to his parents, continuing to keep Jewish law around the home, despite no longer being observant.

“If there is one word I would use to describe Hersh it would be respect,” Goldberg said. 

“We as a people, as a country, as a nation, have to do every single thing to save our own people: these hostages,” she said. “It should be something that we are proud of and that we should embrace. Yes, the price will be high, but that's what makes us holy. That we do things because we so value life. That is what makes us Jewish and it is something that I am so proud of to be part of.”

Polin also called for “a big push” in the coming weeks on behalf of the remaining 134 hostages, including his son, and led a recitation of Psalm 130 on behalf of those in captivity. 

Argentinian-born Noberto Louis Har, who told his story in Hebrew, translated by Rabbi Shay Schachter, was abducted from Kibbutz Nir Yitzhak on the morning of Oct. 7 to the sounds of breaking glass and gunshots. After being forced from several different vehicles and walking through tunnels, Har as well as three of his family members, including his brother Fernando, were led into a safe house at which they were greeted by their abductors' shouts of “victory over Israel.”

“It was psychological warfare,” Har said. “The inability to make decisions to even walk over to check the windows or talk over a hushed whisper was the hardest part of it.” Har and the hostages with him were told by their captors that Israel did not care about their wellbeing and would not come to rescue them.

Idan Bejerano, Har’s son-in-law told students that, “Fernando managed to lift up Louis when he was down and concurrently Louis lifted up Fernando when he was down,” and that way they survived. 

After 128 days in captivity, the IDF conducted a night-time rescue mission in which they successfully saved both Louis and his brother. Louis and his brother were referred to as ‘diamonds’ in code by the IDF, but Har asserted that the soldiers are the “real diamonds” for risking their lives to rescue him. 

“For us being here today brings some closure,” Bejerano added. Six months ago Har’s daughter Natali spoke at Beren Campus pledging to students that when her father returned she would come back to YU. 

The evening concluded with a poem titled “The Silver Platter” by Natan Alterman delivered by Kfir Slonimsky (YC ‘25), a veteran of the IDF. 


Photo Caption: Freed hostage Noberto Louis Har (center) on stage with his daughter and son-in-law (left) and Rabbi Shay Schachter (right)

Photo Credit: Yeshiva University