EXCLUSIVE: YWN Editor Meets With Jonathan Pollard


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polOn Tuesday December 23, 2009 YWN had the privilege to meet with Jonathan Pollard in the Butner Correctional facility located in Butner, North Carolina for the first time.

Our meeting lasted two hours, and visitors included Rabbi Pesach Lerner (Executive Vice President, National Council Of Young Israel), Rav Yaakov Shapira, the Rosh Yeshiva of Mercaz HaRav Kook in Yerushalayim), R’ Chaskel Bennett (an Askan from Flatbush), and R’ Shlomo Zakheim who has spent his entire life helping Jews across the globe.

The meeting left us in shock and very sad, after seeing one of our Jewish brothers locked in a prison for more than two decades. In fact, Jonathan has just started his 25th year behind bars.

Jonathan appears to look in fairly good condition, although the fact is that he isn’t. He is suffering from numerous medical conditions. His “Matzav Ruach” is good, and his Emunah and Bitachon are steadfast.

Much was discussed in our two hour meeting, and many questions that people have were answered to us. [YWN plans on writing an extensive article about our two hour visit with Jonathan in the coming days.]

At the end of our meeting, the Rosh Yeshiva told Jonathon that he has a D’var Torah to tell him, and that the group would also like to sing a few songs with him. Jonathan responded instantly by saying “I’d prefer the D’var Torah more than the songs”. The Rosh Yeshva told him a D’var Torah which gave him tremendous Chizuk.

Following the D’var Torah the YWN Editor asked Jonathan if he’d ever heard of Shlomo Carlebach. “Of course I have! I loved Carlebach! In fact he was even supposed to come sing for me in prison – and even had clearance to bring his guitar with him. Unfortunately, he was Niftar shortly before his scheduled visit,” Pollard answered us in a sad voice.

I started singing “Esa Einai El He’harim”, followed by “L’maan Achai”. After a few moments I looked at the group, and saw that I was not alone….. everyone had tears in their eyes…. I don’t think I ever sang a song with such D’veykus, feeling, and emotion….. We ended with Carlebach’s joyous “Leshano Habbah Be’Yerushalayim”.

The “government monitor” gave us the look…..time was up…..

We stood up, hugged and kissed Jonathan, blessed him from the bottom of our hearts, told him to stay strong. When it was my turn to bid him farewell, I was at loss of words. What can I possibly tell him? What kind of Chizuk can I possibly give a man who has been imprisoned for 25 years, and who has had the entire Israeli Government turn their backs on him?

I walked up to him, hugged him tightly, and told him that his grandfather, the famed Vilna Goan (whom Jonathan is a direct descendant of) should be a “maylitz yosher” for him, and hope to visit him again real soon as a free man.

He thanked me, and specifically thanked the tens of thousands of YWN readers from the bottom of his heart – who flooded the Whitehouse with emails and phone calls in the last few weeks of the Bush administration.

We just stood there without saying another word, and watched with broken hearts as they removed Jonathan Pollard back to his prison cell.

Please – keep davening for the health and freedom of Yehonosson ben Malka Pollard!
-Please write him letters, letters of support, of chizuk, of divrei torah. Jonathan refers to these letters as his “oxygen”. The letters can be from adults and children, from families and school classes. Please be sure the letters are written in English only. Please just send him letters, no enclosures (tapes, gifts, etc).
– Please choose one day each week, make that your day, each week, to write another letter. ask your family members and friends to do the same. Jonathan reads every letter, although he may not respond.

Please send the letters to:
Jonathan Pollard
# 09185-016
Fci Butner
PO Box 1000/Clemson
Butner, North Carolina

-If you wish to contribute funds to assist Jonathan, while he is in prison, to buy kosher food items from the prison canteen, to pay for his phone calls, to purchase various items that he needs, etc., please use the following link https://www.youngisrael.org/securecontent/donate.cfm?dt=pollard or send your contributions to: Young Israel Charities, attention the Pollard Fund, c/o National Council of Young Israel, 111 John Street, Suite 450, New York, NY 10038.

[An extensive article is being worked on, and will be posted in the coming days]

(YWN Editor – NYC)


  1. Wow incredible- full respect to YW Editor and all who went to give Chizuk to this poor man. May he be realeased very soon im”y.

    Kol Hakavod guys!

  2. Kol Hakavod, Rabbi Lerner has been leading trips to visit Jonathan for years. Thank you for doing what we all should do.
    The importance of guests is what keeps Mr. Pollard going, says his wife. WHy aren’t there people going on a monthly basis? Look at the visitors to S. Rubashkin, how about some of them heading down south to visit Jonathan Pollard.

  3. Kudos to YWN Editor and Rabbanim for showing such support and trying to give chizuk to such an unbelievable man who only wanted to help Klall Yisrael! May H’KBH grant him a complete refuah shelama and to have menuchat hanefesh ve guf and to be zocher to be released from his cell, and reunited with his dear wife, Esther and given a hero’s welcome in Eretz Yisrael be karov! Please don’t forget our brother, Yehonatan ben Malka in all our tefilot and to write to him weekly, as well as bombarding the White House and the Senators to release him NOW!

  4. wow i hope this news reaches hagaon r mordechai eliahu shlita. he will surely be very happy to hear that there are people visiting jonathan. on second thought , i would not be surprised if it was he who instructed r yaakov shapira to go…

    why are prisoners not allowed to have email?

  5. What is the big privilege!!?? there are many other Jewish prisoners, what makes him any different?

    Because he worked for Israel?!

    and BTW is he even a Shomer Shabbos jew??

  6. Heartwarming news!
    I would consider visiting Jonathan when I have off from work. Can YWN supply us with a phone number or address of the authorities that are required prior to receiving clearance. Or perhaps they can channel us in the direction as to what procedure is needed to allow for a visit.
    This man needs us.

  7. #7 you should be ashamed of your comment. Bec there are other jews in prison means he doesn’t deserve sympathy?. 25 years in isolation means nothing to you?by the way he is shomer shabbos.

  8. #7 – He is a shomer shabbos Jew, davens 3 times each day, and keeps kosher. How many Jews have you visited in jails? Let us know.

    #5 – Email has not yet been installed in the facility. email has already been installed in other jails though. It’s only a matter of time before every jail has it.

  9. #6 – What makes him different, you ask? Well, he’s been incarcerated for 25 years. Not for stealing money, but for spying for an ally country, namely Israel. The reason it’s a privilege is because most people wouldn’t keep their sanity after all these years, let alone emunah and bitachon. No, not because it’s Israel – uh oh! Zionism! – that he spied for, but because the US and Israeli gov’s left him for dead, and therefore we must show that we, Klal Yisroel, DO appreciate what he did on behalf of Israel (he helped prevent Iraq from acquiring a nuclear bomb by supplying the Israelis with info on Iraq’s reactor, thus giving them the necessary intelligence needed to bomb it) and that we stand with him. Even after 25 years.

    Just imagine sitting in solitary confinement for one week. Imagine you’re sick and you’re home, all alone, from yeshiva, kollel, work, or whatever, and you have NOTHING to do, and you’re not even receiving the necessary medical attention, I wonder how long you would hold out for before you snapped. May it never happen to anyone and may Yehonoson ben Malka be released bekorov mamash, amen.

  10. what a disgusting thing to say! who cares if hes shomer shabbos? hes a jew, and besides who cares anyway, hes a person! as a person he deserves sympathy jew or not!

  11. aaronflo, this Jew has been “thrown under the bus” by the Zionists (and by this medinah shel chesed), for what appear to be political reasons.

    Regardless of any Zionist involvement, it seems his motivation was to save Jewish lives. Is your heart that cold?

  12. Aaronflo, you despise me. You are a sick individual that needs rachmei shamayim. How low can a Jew sink? How could you face Hashem and ask him daily for rachmanus for parnassah, gezunt and everything else when you don’t exhibit that very trait that Hashem has? What is wrong with you? What has Shomer Shabbos got to do with anything? You think the Nazi’s cared if their victims were shomrei shabbos? Besides the fact that Pollard is a true Baal Teshuva and more particular on the mitzvos then you probably ever will be, a Jew is a Jew and no matter what affiliation, a Jew deserves our rachmanus. Put aside your petty politics and realize the severity of your insensitive comments. You have a lot of soul searching to do. May Hashem have mercy on your soul.

  13. The sentence Pollard receieved is so unfair, he was punished enough. Worse criminals are out on the streets after just serving several years. I wish we could do more for him. Lets keep his name in mind and may Ha-shem have rachamim and make the gov’t reduce his sentence.

  14. The US Government has a duty to apologize to Israel for not revealing this information to Israel immediately? If someone has a gun drawn behind your friend’s back don’t you think you should tell him? In fact Pollard should be rewarded by the US for saving the US eternal disgrace since Israel’s deficiency of this information could have resulted in catastrophy. The quality of not being able to admit you’re wrong by arguing that following protocol is preminent will always come back to haunt. A situation will arise when stupid protocol will cause disaster.

  15. Free Shalit after two years?

    Free Pollard after twenty-five years!

    Shame on Israel for not getting him out; they could.

    And shame on every American president, including Dr. Love Obama himself, who insist on torturing Pollard with cruel and unusually long incarceration for a crime that all others have been released long ago for.

  16. BS”D

    The fact is that Pollard’s motivation was gelt ($50,000 and a ring) and he was shopping around for the highest and safest bidder for his information.

    It is also not clear that the information really did anything for the security of Jews in EY. His supporters’ claims that the information was necessary to bomb the Iraqi reactor are most probably exaggerated and possibly false.

    That, however, does not change the fact that the country he did sell it to was the state of Israel, and that they paid for it. When all is said and done, that state did indeed “throw him under the bus”. (That, of course, is because that state, since it does not rely on or serve Hashem as a Jewish entity in EY should do, must instead depend on American goodwill to survive and said goodwill was stretched to the limit with the foolish decision of that state to purchase Pollard’s information). It is the state’s willingness to buy such information, and not the fact that there was one Pollard who actually sold it, that leads to suspicions against Jewish employees of the US government.

    In addition, Pollard’s sentence is unduly harsh because of the involvement of Caspar Weinberger ymach shmo veyeabed zichro, and therefore, despite his real crimes, he is a victim of both the medine and a very real anti-Semite who happens to be of Jewish extraction. If the case were handled fairly he would have gotten 10 or even 15 years and would be living in EY today.

    By visiting Pollard in prison, the delegation shows that the Jews who do care about other Jews are those who do keep Torah, and that we are far above the non-Jewish values of the state that should have taken him into its embassy the moment he was caught.

  17. At the urging of Young Israel many Jewish organizations and individuals made requests in the last days of the Bush presidency for clemency or pardoning Jonathan Pollard. It didn’t work. Now they are again urging the same failed, futile techniques. By demanding clemency from the White House, it gives the appearance of working hard for Jonathan’s freedom while actually accomplishing nothing. What should be done is Jonathan Pollard should be encouraged to apply for parole and not involve the President at all.

    In 1995 Jonathan Pollard’s attorney said applying for parole at that time would have been futile. The situation in 1995 was different than it is now. Since appeals for clemency were not accepted by Bill Clinton nor George Bush and are most likely going to be completely ignored by Barak Obama, we should change strategy and leave the President out of it by requesting parole for Jonathan Pollard.

    We need to contact the United States Parole Commission (http://www.usdoj.gov/uspc/index.html) and request parole be granted to Jonathan Pollard. But in order to do that Jonathan Pollard first needs to file an application requesting parole. So when you write the USPC, also write to Jonathan Pollard to have emunah and bitachon that Hashem will grant him parole so he should file the application and request it.

    For additional information please see http://www.usdoj.gov/uspc/questions.htm . Note that conditions may be required to be met in order for parole to be granted (see http://www.usdoj.gov/uspc/furquest.htm). But those conditions would still be better than Jonathan Pollard remaining in prison.

  18. thanks for the clarification on the jail email. where have the feds been? email has been around for a long time and i dont care how secure it needs to be its a shame its taken so long.all jails should have email by the end of the year ! (next week?)

    oh and by the way, i think anybody who visits must undergo a background check and stuff like that and no big groups are allowed etc… so an even bigger yashar koiach to those who underwent all that for jonathan.

    i hope jewish inmates get to check out yeshiva world at least

  19. I sent him a letter this morning with a dvar Torah.

    Can a printed dvar Torah sheet be included in the envelope, such as Peninim on the Parsha, or is it refused because it is an enclosure?

    If the letter is refused, will it be returned to the sender?

  20. aaronflo, does it really bother you that Jonathan Pollard gave information that helped Israel but was detrimental to your Arab financiers? Does it bother you that Pollard publicized the fact that the U.S. is working with their Arab allies against the best interests of Israel?

  21. Thank you YWN. Looking forward to the in-depth story. Just one thing – is there any way to get an updated picture of Jonathan? All we ever see is the same one from about fifteen years ago!