On October 17th and 18th, 2010, Jewish chaplains, employed by various Federal, state, and local prisons serving the Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Ohio regions, together with more than fifty Aleph Institute volunteers convened for a conference at The Aleph Institute’s Northeast Regional Headquarters.
Notably, several government officials from the United States Bureau of Prisons, Pennsylvania’s head chaplain Reverend Ulli Klemm, and Ohio’s head chaplain Dr. Wanda Jackson were also in attendance.
The topic of the conference was “Who Cares About Jews in Prison?” The rabbis, lay leaders, and the other 100-plus conference attendees and supporters attested that the Jewish community does care about the welfare of Jewish inmates, and agrees that it consistently strives to help those who have consequently been incarcerated for their crimes.
Known author and speaker Rabbi Manis Friedman was invited to be a guest speaker for the event. His lecture addressed the topic of “Who Pays for the Crime – Should A Community Spend Valuable Resources to Help Those in Prison?” (watch the speech bellow).
In addition to presenting this lecture, Rabbi Friedman led a fabreng with the volunteers on the preceding Saturday evening at a Motzei Shabbos Melava Malka.
During the main event, awards were given to three individuals in acknowledgment of their achievements. Aleph Institute volunteer Mr. Fred Landay received the “Aleph Institute 2010 Volunteer of the Year” award.
Pennsylvania’s head Chaplain Reverend Ulli Klemm received recognition for the many hours he has dedicated to helping Jewish inmates practice their religion during incarceration. Lastly, Ohio’s head chaplain Dr. Wanda Jackson was recognized for her remarkable contributions to the Ohio Department of Corrections in her so far short career.
With over two thousand Jews incarcerated in this region alone, the more than fifty volunteers from the Aleph Institute’s center in Pittsburgh visits each and every Jewish inmate at least once a month. Additionally, the center provides daily onsite programs and services each month to hundreds of local men and women.
Rabbi Moishe Mayir Vogel, the Northeast Regional Director who organized this conference, thanked the participants for coming to the second annual event, and once again encouraged those who would like to volunteer to visit the prisons apply on Aleph’s website.
Volunteers are needed all over the United States due to the many incarcerated Jewish men and women who await the comfort of visitation. Their lives are indescribably enhanced and elevated by those few minutes of interaction with someone who cares.
Not one Yom Tov went by without the Rebbe mentioning the Jewish men and women in prison and the importance of making every effort to help them and their families on the outside. It is that inspiration which subsequently gives us the continued inspiration to ensure that the cries of these men and women do not go unheard.
VIDEO: Rabbi Manis Friedman’s speech