Dear Hersh

A few weeks ago, Rachel – Hersh’s mom (as she will be known for the rest of time), invited us to write letters to her son Hersh who was brutally taken captive by Hamas on October 7. The following is the letter I wrote to Hersh which I am sharing in hopes it inspires others to also write to and continue praying for the immediate release of all the hostages:


Dear Hersh,

I hope this letter finds you safe at home finally and brings a moment of comfort in knowing how many people have been thinking of you, praying for your safety, and longing for your return. Words might seem insufficient, but I’m reaching out with a heart full of hope and a faith undimmed by despair.

Since October 7th, my thoughts have been incessantly with you and the many others who share your plight as well as your immediate families. I would say as well as your family but we are all family.

Your parents’ strength has been a source of strength for all of the Jewish people during what has become the most difficult period of time in my lifetime. 

Much like our matriarch Rachel, affectionately referred to as Mama Rachel who historically is the symbol of strength and faith in her incessant prayer on behalf of her children, your mother has been praying and advocating and doing everything in her power to bring you home. She has become our modern day Mama Rachel.

In solidarity with your family, especially your courageous mother, I have been wearing a piece of tape on my chest, each day adding a number, marking the time of your absence. Today, it reads ‘174’. This small act, though symbolic, is a daily reminder of your strength and the collective hope we hold for your safe return.

Inspired by your mother’s unwavering strength and determination, we began this silent yet powerful gesture of solidarity on day 97. She suggested it as a means for us to bear, even if only in part, the immense burden and pain your family faces each day. It has since become a daily ritual for me, making the wait for your return all the more tangible.

I pray for you, Hersh. In the quiet moments of the day, in the stillness of the night, my thoughts and prayers are with you. I pray for your safety, for your resilience, and for the moment when you will be reunited with your loved ones. Missing someone I’ve never met feels strange, yet I find myself eagerly anticipating the day we can meet.

May you find strength in knowing that you are not forgotten, that your return is awaited with eager hearts and open arms. We hope to see the day when we no longer need any tape. Until then, know that you are missed, you are loved, and most importantly, you are not alone.

With unwavering hope for your safe return,

Rabbi Menachem Lehrfield 

About the Author
Rabbi Menachem Lehrfield lives in Denver, Colorado with his wife, Sarah, and their five energetic children. He serves as the Director of the Jewish Outreach Initiative (JOI), a transformative program reshaping the Jewish landscape in Denver. JOI is dedicated to providing authentic Jewish experiences and learning opportunities for individuals from diverse backgrounds in a meaningful and engaging way. Additionally, Rabbi Lehrfield is the Co-director of SITE (the School of Integrative Torah Education), a Hebrew school alternative where Judaism is brought to life in a fun, camp-like atmosphere. He hosts the "Zero Percent” and "Dear Rabbi”podcasts and cohosts the "reConnect" podcast, further broadening his influence and connection with a global audience. Known for his warmth and genuine love for every Jew, Rabbi Lehrfield's approachable demeanor enables him to connect with people across all age groups and backgrounds. As a dynamic and engaging educator, he employs analogies and humor to make complex, profound ideas accessible and relatable to all, from novices to experts. Rabbi Lehrfield earned his M.Ed from Loyola University in Chicago and received two rabbinic ordinations; one from Yeshivas Beis Yisroel in Jerusalem, and another from Rabbi Zalman Nechemia Goldberg, the Chief Justice of the Jerusalem High Court. Beyond his professional pursuits, Rabbi Lehrfield is passionate about photography, baking, rock climbing, and snowboarding. These diverse interests allow him to engage with a broad spectrum of individuals and communities, furthering his mission to make Judaism relevant and meaningful for all Jews. You can follow Rabbi Lehrfield's activities and insights at @JOIdenver on Instagram and Facebook.
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