The Sefardi Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem, Rishon L’Tzion Harav Shlomo Amar, wrote a letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin appealing to him to pardon imprisoned Israeli backpacker Naama Issachar, who was sentenced to 7.5 years in jail for a minor drug charge.
Naama’s father visited Harav Amar last week to receive a bracha from him. Harav Amar patiently listened to his description of Naama’s suffering and offered encouragement to him and his family. At the end of the meeting he penned the letter to Putin which was revealed in news reports on Tuesday.
“I see the deep pain of Naama’s parents and family,” Harav Amar wrote to Putin. “And the truth is that her imprisonment arouses pain and sorrow in all of the Jewish people.”
“The family’s eyes are on you, that you will have mercy on her and grant her your pardon. And the blessing of her parents and all of Israel will be a crown on your head. Please, honored Sir, from your international standing of honor, have mercy on Naama and her family, and put an end to their pain and suffering. With blessings and much appreciation.”
Putin is scheduled to visit Israel next week for the International Holocaust Remembrance Forum at Yad Vashem on January 23 and the unveiling of a monument to the victims of the Siege of Leningrad during World War II. Some are of the opinion that he may bring Issachar with him.
On Monday, news reports said that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu sent a letter to Naama which she received on Sunday night.
“Israel’s citizens are thinking of you,” Netanyahu wrote. “Our people have always been characterized by our mutual support. We won’t abandon anyone to their fate and that’s how it is in your case as well. The state of Israel and I are investing in constant efforts to bring about your release. We all send you our great love and are united in the expectation to see you soon in Israel.”
Netanyahu concluded the letter with a message in his own handwriting and signed by him and his wife Sara: “With you always, until your release and after.”
ראש הממשלה בנימין נתניהו העביר מכתב לנעמה יששכר: "אזרחי המדינה חושבים עליך. איננו מפקירים אף אדם לגורלו, וכך גם במקרה שלך. מדינת ישראל ואני משקיעים מאמצים בלתי-פוסקים להביא לשחרורך. אנו עומדים בקשר עם בני משפחתך, ובכל שיחה איתם אנו מדגישים את מחויבותנו להחזיר אותך הביתה בהקדם" pic.twitter.com/n5sNcciXsz
— ראש ממשלת ישראל (@IsraeliPM_heb) January 13, 2020