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Yeshiva Bochur Arrested After Entering U.S. Illegally By Swimming Across River From Ontario

A Russian Yeshiva Bochur remains in U.S. custody after reportedly swimming across the St. Lawrence River to Morristown, N.Y., on Tuesday night.

Details surrounding the incident, however, remain murky. As reported Thursday in The Watertown Daily Times, A 23-year-old Russian national seeking to attend Yeshiva in Lakewood New Jersey, is believed to have used a scuba suit to swim from Brockville, in eastern Ontario, to neighbouring Morristown.

He was apprehended by New York State troopers sometime after 11 p.m. at a convenience store on Route 37 after an employee reported a suspicious-looking man carrying a large backpack.

He told authorities he came to Canada from Israel on Oct. 30 and had been in Ottawa for several days prior to travelling to Brockville by taxi.

As reported by The Daily Times, he is expected to be arraigned in U.S. District Court in Plattsburgh, N.Y., sometime over the next few days. He has been charged with illegal entry.

A woman who saw the man, and wished to remain unidentified, told QMI Agency he was clad all in black and looked to be very cold.

Sources tell YWN that he had just returned from learning in a Yeshiva in Yerushalayim, and wanted to go learn in Lakewood, but his visa had expired. The determined Yeshiva Bochur had hoped to evade US Customs Agents, and make his way across the river, and then travel by car to Lakewood.

(Source: Toronto Sun)

21 Responses

  1. anyone remember the story of Hillel who went up to the roof to hear the shiur and was found covered in snow, sounds similar except this is extreme

  2. Echo charliehall. He could have saved himself a lot of time, effort, and money by doing it the right way. No big deal getting a student visa.

  3. Please don’t jump to conclusions about how easy it would have been for him to get a student visa. I am sure that if it were easy, he would have done it. Other reports of this incident contain more bacground information on this individual which explain why he may have had difficulty getting a student visa (Russian citizenship, history of living in US, prior immigration overstay). Also, in order to maintain their authorization to admit foreign students, schools like BMG are not likely to enroll foreign students who are without legal status in the US.

  4. Although I see how the drama might cause one to admire his efforts being that he was aiming at a noble goal I must point out that there is no kiddush Hashem if the mitzvah was al yiday aveirah. Even the sheva mitzvos B.N. require one to maintain judicial courts and adhere to the rules of the country. Illegal is illegal finished.

    The second thing I feel needs clarification is it is NOT so easy to get a student visa. If you’re a Russian student and you know better feel free to correct me.

  5. This is NOT mesiras nefesh for torah, I dont envy his s’char and certainly not his legal issues, it’s mishugas at best and anyone comparing this stunt to hillel has a fantastical imagination. Who gave him a heter to endanger his life by swimming 3000 feet (over 1/2 mile) in freezing water in the dark? Does anyone realize the alternative outcome this could very easily have had? Have we forgotten our recent searches for drowning victims?
    As a side note, seems his planning was seriousley lacking. Once he reached shore,to hike in a wet suit, shopping in conv stores and not attract attention? The plan should have at the very least included a pick up person.

  6. Can you imagine if he arrived in Lakewood cold & wet & they put him directly in the freezer?? At least where he’s being held now is warm & dry.

  7. i know this bochur, (he used to learn in my yeshiva), so before making any assumptions, try to know the facts #2 and #4! cuz NO he could NOT get a visa!!! he and his mother have been moser nefesh all their lives for the sake of torah! so maybe instead of being so critical of the poor guy, learns something from him like chasivus hatorah!

  8. A few things fellow readers. This bocher came to America over 10 years ago from Russia on a 6 months visa. He overstayed it by 8 years because he could not get proper documentation. He went to Eretz Yisroel 3 1/2 years ago and has NEVER been back since. He has not seen his mother or any family during this whole time. He is 23 years old and looking really hard for a shidduch. When that became not nogeia in Eretz Yisroel he worked hard to gain legal entry again into the US. That ended up not happening due to various complications. Finally with no other option he risked the move that he knew may end him up in jail. He prayed it should work. G-d wanted otherwise. Currently askanim are working to gain him freedom on bail. He is a yorai Shamayim with midos tovos who suuffered more then any of us should ever know of. Our prayers and hearts are with him.

  9. Dear Mr. Nister

    There are laws here. We all have to obey them. There are many other places he could learn, & people DO find Shidduchim outside the US, you know! Having said that, I admire his ingenuity & determination, even as I think he’s crazy for doing such a foolhardy thing. He’s lucky he didn’t freeze to death or drown.

  10. Immigration laws and entry into the USA are simple IF you are an American citizen, if not you must be knowledgeable and aware of the consequences.

  11. What strikes me is not the illegality. Worse yet, if he could swim to the USA, and apparently not be detected entering this country (the authorities it seems only found out by someone in the store,) terrorists could come in that way too, and the results could be far worse for this country and its people.

  12. To #16: Did they have thermometers in those days? Subzero sounds more dramatic. But whatever the temperature, we can say he had an unbelievable desire to learn, despite obstacles, and we can learn from that.

  13. I’m with #13. I got to know him in eretz yisroel and he is a great person who would never hurt a fly. he is a real example for bemokom shbal tsuva omdim…no one can blame s/o for wanting to see his mother and getting married. If you don’t know the details don’t put him down. I feel terrible for him. do we have his name for davening?

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