Acheinu Bais Yisroel,
As many of you already know, a horrible chillul Hashem was brought to light on the front pages of many major New York newspaper publications last week. These articles outlined the “special” treatment some of our Jewish brethren receive in incarceration through the tremendous efforts of an extremely well intentioned frum chaplain and others at a lower Manhattan holding facility known as “The Tombs”.
It is there that between 50 and 60 of our brothers are held as they await trial for various alleged financial crimes.
Through years of hard work and political maneuvering by many, they have been able to shield these individuals from countless unknown potential atrocities should they have been held with other hardened criminals at Riker’s Island. This “shmirah” came to a screeching halt last week through the actions of a thoughtless and selfish Jew as he “maasered” on an inmate who aligns himself with an opposing faction of the community.
The inmate had arranged to have his son’s Bar Mitzvah celebration in the jail where he was being held. This information was subsequently leaked to the press at which time they had to act on the information. And act on it they did. What a travesty!
This has caused an obvious chillul Hashem of the highest magnitude and has put the orthodox community at large and all frum inmates, once again, under great and unwarranted scrutiny. It has had a tremendous ripple effect and has left in its wake the evisceration of years of mesiras nefesh and infrastructure that has been built for inmates past, present, and future.
We all know how important the mitzvah of Pidyan Shvui’im is and it is not our place to judge another Jew. That is a job for Hakodosh Baruch Hu alone. Our job is to make sure that we do all we can to facilitate these individuals and their families in their time of need to the best of our ability. No one would condone any of their alleged behavior and some may agree or disagree with the considerations they may have received until this point, but no one would disagree that we must stand by our fellow Jews and help in any way we can. Unfortunately, that was all lost and a lesson that will come at a severe price. Who knows what will, Lo Aleinu, await these prisoners as they get shipped off to Riker’s Island. Their potential mistreatment is beyond our comprehension as they will be in the company of the worst criminals in our state.
Does someone really believe a good thing was done here? Is this what our Torah teaches us? The anti-semitism this has caused will be on their head and only death can be m’chaper the chillul Hashem. We, as Jews, must think long and hard of the far reaching ramifications of our actions.
Was the Mesirah truly worth it!?!
(Shmuel Shenker – YWN)