Fifty-eight years ago, as a young college student sitting in a Philadelphia shul on Yom Kippur, all I could think about was the final blowing of the shofar and running home to feast on the delicacies my mother had made for break fast.
Fast forward to four young college students who could have spent Yom Kippur with their families, or be in Jerusalem (where one lives) or in the cosmopolitan city of Tel Aviv, but chose to “leave their land, their relatives, and their father’s house” and like our Father Abraham, to travel to a wilderness, where they spent their Yom Kippur in a federal prison with Jewish inmates (“An unforgettable Yom Kippur — in prison,” Oct. 11, 2019). This was the penultimate act of “teshuvah, tefillah and tzedakah.”
Their spirit, their enthusiasm and their camaraderie gave to us inmates, who may have never had a visit, a vivification to our Jewish community and gave us a hope to be inscribed in the Book of Redemption for a life of freedom once again.
As an incarcerated Jewish inmate, we become our worse self-critic and see ourself as a shanda. But those young men treated us with respect, reminding us we are still a part of the Jewish family.
LSCI Butner, North Carolina