England: Kosher Meal Deal For Food-Strike Prisoner


bb2.jpgA prisoner went on hunger strike for six days in a protest against the prison authorities’ decision to cut his kosher meals allowance.

Simon Benson, four years into a 12-year sentence for murder, received 11 kosher meals a week (together with other privileges, such as preparing salads in his cell for his other meals) while in Cardiff prison.

He was also on a gluten-free diet and was allowed a toaster in his cell for gluten-free bread.

But that all changed when Benson, 52, was moved to Gartree Prison in Leicestershire two months ago. According to his brother Isaac, he was restricted to one kosher meal a day, had to go to the prison canteen for the rest of his meals, and lost his toaster.

However, on Tuesday, after calls from Leicester Hebrew Congregation’s Rabbi Shmuli Pink, who is a member of the Jewish prison chaplaincy service, prison governor Julia Morgan agreed that almost all of Benson’s privileges — including the 11-kosher-meals allowance — would be restored.

Isaac Benson said: “Simon is delighted that the prison has agreed to give him back virtually everything that he had in Cardiff. Since he started the hunger strike, he has had only one cup of black coffee and nothing else, and he was very weak.

“As far as I know, Simon was always kosher. He had no problem when he was in Cardiff, and was allowed to take food to his cell so that it would not be mixed up with non-kosher food in the canteen.

“At Gartree, he went through the complaints procedure, but was told he could only have a maximum of seven meals a week. They refused to let him keep his toaster or to prepare food in his cell. He was so upset about it he started the hunger strike.”

Rabbi Pink said: “This [the restoration of the privileges] has happened because of a team effort rather than any one individual. I have spoken to the governor a couple of times and she spoke to me on Tuesday to say everything was all right.”

The Rev Michael Binstock, director of Jewish Prison Chaplaincy, said this was the first case he knew of where a prisoner had gone on hunger strike in order to be given kosher food.

Prison Service regulations state that it is the right of a Jewish prisoner to have one kosher meal a day.

(Source: Jewish Chronicle)


  1. Had he had the same dedication to the sanctity for human life and the Mitzvah not to take a life as he does for the Mitzvah of Kosher food he would not be in the situation he is now, besides the fact that his act is a Chlul Ha-Shem. Please don’t tell me that I do not know the whole story and maybe there was a justification for his acts or that he was wrongly convicted.

  2. Wierd posters. Does the fact that he quite possibly did a terible sin in any way negate his status as a Jew?

    Teshuva is not only for the conservative etc., it is for the frum as well. In fact it is for you as well!

  3. Are we forgetting that he may have done teshuva?
    All it takes is one second for a good person to lose his temper and end up committing the most horrid offense. Thank G-d, most of us are lucky that when we get ticked off we do not have a weapon in easy reach. That is all it takes, and a heimishe Yid could become a murderer.

    Sure, we all talk about our having better midos and that we would NEVER do such a thing.
    Guess what? There are hundreds of “murderers” in prisons around the world who were very sure of the same thing. They are not all bad people!

    Here in the US we do have, unfortunately, more than we think of “heimishe” Yidden behind bars for taking a life.
    Remember, if we were not capable of this, we would not need Yom Kippur, Slichos, etc.,

    All it takes in one second.

    If, chas v’sholom it happened to you, would you not do teshuva immediately? How would you feel? You would spend your life having horrible charata.
    Should you also be deprived of eating kosher?

    Sure, every time it happens it is a chillul Hashem, and we certainly wish each and every one did not occur. But we need also to have the forgiveness for those who are nichshal in avairos, if we want Hashem to forgive us for ours.

    Yes, Thank G-d the Jewish population is a small minority in the prisons, and THAT is a kiddush hashem.

    But, we need to be kind to each one, and try our best to help them out, with food, seforim, or whatever they need.

    The Lubos have the Aleph Institute dedicated to this, and Satmar has their own group that seeks no publicity and works with private sources only, helping out even non-frum Jews in prisons.

    Both do tremendous good.

    I did not understand how many Yidden are in tefisa until I worked as a mashgiach in a place that prepared frozen “meals on wheels” for the poor, and then I found out that every two weeks we shipped a few pallets, THOUSANDS of glatt kosher meals, to the Florida prisons.

    And that is only one company in only one part of the State. I can only imagine in NY/NJ area.

    I heard of one case, where a Yingerman in NY/NJ area caught a burglar with a gun climbing into the window in his kid’s room. In the fight, he took the gun from the man and shot him with his own gun.

    The jury convicted him because they said once he had the gun, he was no longer in danger!
    They said it was no longer self-defense, since he already had the gun!
    The fact that the burglar was a 6’4″ 260lb large man, while he was a short,skinny very frightened kollel nebachel in comparison, did not matter.

    They said, had he used his own gun to protect himself from the man with the gun, they would have found him Not Guilty, but since he somehow, with strength he did not know he had, (trying to protect his tiny sons) took the burglar’s gun, the burglar was at his mercy, and he did not show mercy but shot the “helpless” burglar! He was sentenced to 15 years!

    That is one case. How about the Yeshivish man who searched for and killed the goy who raped his wife, loi ulaini, … can no one have mercy on him either? He was sentenced to 20+ years. Technically he is a murderer.

    I once had a situation about 18 years ago, where I thought I would do something like that. Someone hurt someone I love very very deeply. This person is scarred for life from this. I wanted to kill him. I had a gun in the house, as I always do. Thank Hashem, I had the peace of mind to take the gun and sell it to a pawn shop immediately. I did not trust myself with a gun in the house knowing I would have to see that man in a few hours.

    If that “malach” or whatever it was, who told me to get rid of the guns before he came over had not helped me, I may be in prison now.

    It only takes one second, for any good person, with good midos, to become a “murderer” …
    so, let’s have some of that loving kindness we Jews are known for, and extend it even to those who are incarcerated for “heinous” crimes.
    They are still Yidden. Hashem still wants us to love them, not to make snide remarks about them.

  4. The crime was committed while he was severely under the influence of drugs. The murderer was drug free, but was lured back to drugs by the victim.

    Now that you know the facts, maybe you can show some compassion for Acheinu Bnei Yisroel.

  5. i was involved in supplying kosher food to the heimshe olym in otisville NY (they had a sefer Torah and all the besser e’mentchen!)
    we got a letter asking if the food was YOSHON! that was a bit overboard….

  6. DM,
    After all your comments I’ve seen here on yw, this for sure is the most wild! I mean why would you publicize that your a murderer, did you also have to sell your kitchen knives? Maybe it’s time to see some profesional help.

  7. Thanks DM. You eloquently expressed many of my own sentiments.

    One more thing to consider: A jury of twelve decides the guilt of the defendant. Only if all twelve agree can there be a verdict, otherwise it is a hung-jury and the trial is declared a mistrial.

    In most cases, there is evidence for and against the defendant. Cases are rarely clear-cut. It would be reasonable to assume that some jurors would believe the defendant is guilty, and other jurors would believe he is not guilty. It should follow that there would be a high percentage of mistrials.

    However, mistrials happen in less than 10 percent of trials. Why?

    Is is far fetched to say that one or two dominant members of the jury decide one way, and the others just go along?

    A friend of mine was a juror in a murder trial in NYC. He knew that the defendant was guilty, but the other eleven jurors said he was innocent. After arguing with them for a day, he decided that he would rather be home with his family, so he too said not guilty and the trial ended.

    After the trial he told the judge what happened, and the judge responded “You’re damn right he’s guilty”.

    That is American (=Western?) justice.

    Your fate is decided by people to stupid to get out of juty duty.

  8. # 16,

    Where did you concoct such an idea, that if someone committed a sin, he is exempt of all other Mitzvos??? Completely untrue.

    [Additionally, has G-d revealed that this particular person has no Teshuvah until he passes on???]

    Why don’t you turn some of your concern you’ve expressed in the conservative “kashruth” article towards people who’ve made life-long commitments, albeit imperfectly, to following Hashem’s Commandments?

  9. why is everyone bashing and kiling each other. no one knows enough info of all these stories to say a daya, especially to say he is mechuiv misa etc. so please don’t advertise any dayos . by the way if your board go learn dafff yommmmi.

  10. I used to visit this gentleman. I cannot believe how narrow-minded and judgemental commentors are on this site. Who appointed you judge and jury?

    How do you know what you would have done in his situation? Have you had such a nisayon?

    Yitamu CHAYAIM min ha’aretz – velo CHOTIM
    Hate the sin, not the sinner.

    This man is a yid – af al pi shechoto yisroel who – who committed a terrible crime yet still adheres to his faith. I cannot disclose details but as mentioned above he was under duress and anyway it’s irrelevant, should every prisoner become frye just because they committed a crime?

    This gentleman is moser nefesh for kashrus, he has also done teshuva and has changed substantially, he also comes from quite a frum family…

    Maybe if some of you got out and met some prisoners rather than just rushing to judge you might understand. They are not ‘the salt of the earth’ but they are human beings, and yidden, who can still do mitzvos. B”H there are people who don’t think like the people commenting on this site.

    What shocks me the most is people rushing to judge based on a media report which may or may not be factually correct.

    There is no chillul hashem – muslim prisoners get halal, hindus get vegetarian, he is entitled to kosher according to prison rules, they just play games.

  11. We are all sitting happily typing about a fellow yid whose sitting in jail. It doesn;’t matter what crime he was put in jail for, thats not our business, if he’s moiser nefesh to the degree that he’s weak from near starvation, that alone is a reason not only to not degrade him but to look up to him.

    Why must we always focus on the half empty cup rather than the half full cup? We live in Galus and our mission is to see and focus only on the good of every person.

    How can we judge that this was a wrongdoing without putting ourselves into his situation?

    I hope the comments about fellow yidden will take an upturn after this.

  12. although it’s sounds a bit ironic that a murderer should suddenly be so makpid on Kashrus, i guess i taka don’t know the whole story, so I’m not judging. but #7 (DM): are Yom Kippur & Slichos only for murderers??
    it’s also for the ‘small things’, unless u don’t call them aveiros…

  13. #13 Yeshivish Hocker, I did not say I was a murderer. I said that at the moment, I had very strong emotions, and I was afraid of what I may have done. Someone VERY close to me was attacked and hurt very badly by a person I knew. I am not giving more details to protect anonymity. But being afraid I may shoot a perpetrator after the fact, and doing what I needed to do to make sure I do not kill him does not make me a murderer.
    Guns and knives are not the same. The minimal effort, and speed of a gun does not leave the gun holder much time to say, “Oh My G-d! What am I doing?” You grab the gun and it is over. With a knife, you pull the trigger before your anger clears. Also, the gun allows you to kill without the other person having much opportunity to oppose you, and fight back. With a knife you can be opposed.
    And though I do believe owning a gun is fine, and I have no problem with owning one now, I recognized the danger it may have at that time.
    I remembered my first firearms safety instructor saying, “I highly recommend that anyone contemplating divorce sell his guns, and stay gunless for at least a full year after the divorce is final. High negative emotions are not a good condition for gun ownership.” I remembered that and acted in the safest way. I am not a murderer, and took offense from your words.
    #21 Yatzmich

    That is the problem with being an older guy. I have experience a lot, and having been very active heard and learned of many other peoples’ situations.
    #22 willi

    Of course Yom Kippur and Slichos are for everthing, even the so-called smaller avairos.
    But the point I was making was the ability of any of us to make a mistake in a moment.
    Chillul Shabbos is a biggie. But how many people accidentally were mechallel Shabbos in their lifetime? Is there anyone who did not? Just as one can mess up and commit one avaira, one can just as easily do a “worse” one.

    and for those who say he needs to die to do teshuva… that is not halacha. Plus, does the committing of one avaira excuse you from the rest of the mitzvos?

  14. Baruch Hasem, we can all read a story and understand the underlying related issues, seemingly contradictory ideas, mussar, etc…

    Commenting on every story, has sadly reached a really low point.

    It’s amazing to find stories with over 100 comments. And by scanning the comments, it’s clear that people are actually reading the whole flow. If people dedicated 10% of that energy to something more constructive, the world would be a lot different.

    The Lashon Hara and other derogatory information discussed is quite a shame. Let’s not forget that this website is open to the public, and all comments are in the public domain, rendering many pages a sad Chillul Hashem.

    Maybe we should all “keep the comments to ourselves”

    —just my opinion