Orthodox Prisoner Sues To Get Seforim Back


prison.jpgInmates at Otisville Federal prison who are challenging a ban on some religious books in chapel libraries at federal prisons are trying to take the fight nationwide. They are asking that the lawsuit be given class action status so it can benefit thousands of others behind bars.

One of the inmates, an Orthodox Jew, filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Manhattan on Tuesday. He had brought a similar lawsuit two months ago but withdrew it after a judge said he needed to register complaints with the prison system first.

The inmate further accused the government of the “indiscriminate dismantling of religious libraries” at federal prisons nationwide.

(Source: Associated Press)


  1. You don’t know why he is in jail and under what circumstances. Many great Tzaddikim would visit inmates in jail and tend to their ruchniyos needs. Instead of making fun and judging them unfavorably why not have some rachmoniyos!

  2. Whatever happened to dan lekaf zechus?

    In Elul, no less.

    C’mon people, have some rachmonus, and maybe the Av Harachamon will have rachmonus on you!

  3. just like there is a bikur cholim and a tomchei shabbos we must forrm a group to help prisoners who ars orthodox they must bring certain situations to the public

  4. sammy, don’t believe everything you hear. that is part of the issur of loshon hora and sheker you violate.

    innocent jews have gone to prison throughout history refusing to be a moiser on another yid — including in this country. other innocent jews have gone to prison for merely being a jew — yes, despite what you may believe, including in this country. tzadikim throughout jewish history have been unjustifiably incarcerated.

    anti-semitism is alive & well. we live in golus, i need not remind you.

  5. To AvrohomK:

    Alot of Tzaddikim visit inmates because you know the famous saying, “he’s sitting for the Mosad or Chassidus…”

    Sorry, it’s just the truth. Ask around.


    To all potential “Chosheve” inmates;

    Instead of worrying so much about all the “innocent” convicted inmates, did anyone ever think of their families??? Wives left home alone with the kids the fend for themselves. Some without income. The Kehilah has to now provide.

    ELUL! Before you do such “business”, remember that your spouse will be an “Almoneh” until you come out. That’s if she takes you back! Let alone the “Chilul Hashem – B’Farhesya”.


    Dear Volve;

    They did the crime, they’ll do the time. Almost everyone gets caught. Where there’s smoe, there’s fire. If innocent jews are going to jail, why are me and you not incarcerated yet? Get over that excuse.

  6. mtydhd, your comment is senseless. just look at the history of how many false convictions have been overturned. and i am referring to even non-jewish people. some served DECADES in prison until they were released after being found to have been falsely convicted due to prosecutorial misconduct, etc.

    Make no mistake. Prosecutors are looking to build their careers, whether the defendant is guilty or not.

    We must be dan l’kav zechus.

  7. Volve, What you are describing is the exception, not the rule. Definitely, there are innocent people who get swept up in the tide. Don’t tell me there are hundreds of people you know are sitting for crimes they did not commit. Their biggest crime was not being careful enough – getting caught. Not only that, we all know a lot of people doing things they shouldn’t be; that risk getting caught. The point is, it’s Elul. Rethink your actions and consider your family into the consequences.

  8. You shouldnt assume one convicted by the corrupt system is necessarily guilty. Nor should you assume someone acquited by the system is innocent. A Yid should get the benefit of the doubt.

  9. My point is you cannot trust a non-jewish justice system. Even with American justice being far fairer than previous non-jewish systems, it in no way can be considered true justice or acceptable from a halachic standpoint.

    I don’t know you, and i have only seen comments on this site twice. yesterday,regarding Uman, and this insert. Needless to say, after reading your most disgusting comments, sadly, I am happy that i don’t know you. You speak with such chutzpah and distaste for your fellow bretheren. Remember that on Rosh HaShana (in Uman or not), we are judged as a tzibbur, not as yechidim.

    In #2 you comment “Maybe he was asking for Sharey Teshuva or an abridged Choshem Mishpat?
    I wish that you would do us all a favour and “Kshoit atzmecha”. Really, I wonder what your shaarei t’shuvah looks like. Maybe while you are self evaluating, you should check out one of the all time best sellers. It’s written by a rabbi named Rabbi Moshe Chaim Lutzato. The title of this book is Mesillas Yesharim.
    I can’t comment on your choshen mishpat because I would have nothing to base it on, but your middos are a forgone conclusion. Seriously: Get some help!!!

  11. I’m apalled at some of the comments here. Why don’t you just feel bad for the poor fellow stuck in jail, instead of mocking him like that? Where are your feelings?

  12. sammygol, the only thing needing to be ‘cracked’ is your self-hatred. Stop blaming the Jews. There were Rishonim and Achronim in jail too. Hardly a chillul hashem for being innocently in jail.

  13. sammygol,
    I must say that I need to ask you mechillah and give you proper kavod. You see, it’s not often that I meet someone that is confident enough to come on R”H as a yachid in front of the HaShem. Most of us common folk, realize that it is only in the merit of achdus and as a tzibbur (oh, and I should not forget to mention the merit of being dan lekaf zechus others so we can be dealt with that way in turn)that we can have a chance.
    Of course the machzor says that we come k’vnai maron, referring to a yachid, but nevertheless, we daven that we should be viewed as a rabbim, and maybe, just maybe we could make it through.
    Sammygol, I must tell you that I AM happy that you did not respond to my other comments about you looking into a couple of mussar seforim for yourself. I assume that “shtikah kehodaa”, and you are taking the advice seriously.
    Please take to heart my comments and the comments of others.
    In closing, I hope that when the possuk states “al tochach LETZ, pen yisnoecha”, this is not you. Rather, you belong to the latter half of the possuk (your comments seem to indicate that you are definately a chacham), “Tochach lechachm veyehavcha”.

  14. Rabosai-
    It says in Chassidishe Seforim that before we are judged for our actions, the Ribono shel Olam puts in front of us people who act in similar ways that we do. The way the we judge them is the way that we, in turn, are judged. While I’m not suggesting that anyone commenting is shayach to being in prison for a crime, very often, b’avonoseinu harabim, we act in ways which are inconsistent with what we claim to be correct hashkafa. (How many times do we talk about bein adam l’chaveiro and then find ourselves speaking loshon hara?)

    While being in prison is obviously very serious, basically what people are writing is “what’s the point in your asking for seforim if you’re dishonest?”
    If we all looked in the mirror at our own chesronos, we would perhaps have to empty our seforim shelves as well.

  15. we should never ever C’V be put in the position that mr XXXXX or any other frum person for that matter finds them selves in “sitting in prison”
    its much worse, 1000x’s worse for an orthodox jew to be put thru the prison system
    the bureau of prisons will be the first to admit that the system is generally not geared to deal with religios needs. kosher food shabos/yomtov minyan etc
    when one is put in such an unfriendly enviornment forced to room with others of diffrent race color or religion (you cant choose your prison mates)its no picnic!.
    to have your seforim removed from the prison library which one can at least escape his surroundings by delving into a sefer etc just causes more agmas nefesh for no reason as all english literature is mostly ok
    their was talk at one point of opening a prison branch specifically for diffrent religions
    but that was shelved for the meantime
    again its not for us to judge others as why they are in prison whether they deserve it or not but once a jew is their we must do all we can from the outside to help alleviate and make it livable
    as the chazal “ayn chovush aztmo mbais asuurin” are no exaggeration
    their are a few yidden who do go out of their way to help in any way they can though they are extremly limited in what they are able to do to help the jewish prisoners
    may hashem help all yidden bkol mokom shehem

  16. Malcolm X was given an ample supply of books and writing materials. And he is championed for raising himself up in prison!!
    Not giving requested reading materials (assuming it is non-subversive,) is cruel and unusual punishment.
    These people granted are potentially guilty of chilul Hashem, and also hurting their own families. Why are we blocking their efforts of self-improvement, or at best reading material they have shown interest.?

  17. I too agree with that.

    The bottom line is we all have a great chiyuv of Pidyun Shevuyim even for the guilty, who are held by the goyim (unless they are violent and a threat to society. But most of the Jewish prisoners are in for non-violent, i.e. monetary, crimes.)

    For example, even though Jonathon Pollard has admitted guilt to espinoge – a very serious crime that at times imposed capital punishment, we still have a chiyuv of Pidyun Shevuyim for Mr. Pollard.

    All should read the halachas regarding Pidyun Shvuyim. It includes rescuing the guilty from incarceration.

  18. #29 Flatbush;
    Yes he was, and if anything prisoners have even more rights.
    And don’t mock them “they want to shtieg”, when else but in prison should they re-examine themselves?
    And what DID they leave them with, an english bible?
    And solitary confinement is cruel/unusual, (with legal precedent) therefore books of no interest is but an extension.
    And why do you think some gemorras in prison is a vacation or PLAYING kollel.
    I question your sympathy, and also your comprehension of killer.

  19. The Jewish inmates in prisom are NOT there because they are Jewish. No Polish landlord threw any Jewish tenant into an American jail. The inmate was a crook or was involved with crooks and was judged by a judge or jury. he cannot demand that the government give him the right to be pious and spiritual while behind bars. His cell mates will have a good laugh at his expense. Is he going to teach the ben-chom how to join shem?


  21. The great mitzvah of Pidyun Shvuyim applies to rescuing Yidden from non-Jewish prisons regardless of their guilt.

    See the halachos regarding Pidyun Shvuyim