WATCH: HaRav Chaim’s Promise: He Became A Ba’al Teshuva & Was Pardoned By Trump

Rav Shalom Ber Sorotzkin asks J.B.'s question to HaRav Chaim.

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One of the 143 people pardoned by former President Donald Trump in his last days in his office was a Jew named J.B. who was in prison on a ten-year sentence for conducting a marijuana trafficking operation from his parents’ home in Staten Island.

J.B.’s cohorts smuggled the marijuana via a nature reserve on the Canadian border and the marijuana was sold across the US. When J.B. realized that the police had become aware of the operation, he fled to Canada, and then to Israel, but subsequently returned home after he realized he would be extradited and would be judged far more harshly than if he turned himself in.

J.B. returned to the States and cooperated with law enforcement, pleading guilty to the charges against him in 2011 and signing a plea agreement. His sentence was repeatedly postponed for various reasons for eight years, during which he remained under house arrest, attached to an electronic tracking device, at his parents’ home in Staten Island. During those eight years, he got engaged and married and had three children. He also worked in finance as a manager and risk analyst.

A year and a half ago, shortly before J.B. began his prison sentence, he met Rosh Yeshivas Ateres Shomo HaRav Shalom Ber Sorotzkin, who was in the US to fundraise for his Torah mosdos. When the Rosh Yeshiva told him that he can’t accept money from him for his mosdos because he’s not Shomer Shabbos, J.B. asked HaRav Sorotzkin a question.

J.B. asked that if he, his wife and his children accept Shemiras Shabbos and Torah U’Mitzvos upon themselves, will he definitely be saved from serving his prison sentence?

The Rosh Yeshivah couldn’t answer J.B.’s question but when he returned to Israel, he went to the home of HaGaon HaRav Chaim Kanievsky and asked him. HaRav Chaim answered that yes, J.B. should accept upon himself Shemiras Shabbos and Torah U’Mitzvos. The Rosh Yeshivah repeated: “If he accepts [Torah U’Mitzvos] upon himself, he will be definitely be saved from [his prison sentence]?” HaRav Chaim responded: “Yes.”

The Rosh Yeshivah asked: “Can I tell him in the name of the Rav that if he accepts upon himself Shemiras Shabbos and Torah U’Mitzvos, he will be definitely be saved from prison? HaRav Chaim responded: “Bracha V’Hatzlacha.”

After receiving HaRav Chaim’s answer, J.B., who was still at home at the time, and his wife and children became Baalei Teshuvah. Shortly later J.B. entered prison, but served only eight months of his ten-year sentence before being pardoned by Trump!

!צדיק גוזר והקדוש ברוך הוא מקיים

(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)


  1. It sounds like this was a legitimate use of the pardon power but whats with the “J.B” when Jonathon Braun’s name was published by the white House and is included in all the media, including Jewish media along with several higher profile frum yidden who successfully lobbied (through Kushner and others) for clemency and pardons. The article at one point refers to him as “Brown” and then reverts back to the “J. B.” reference