Avi was only seven when he watched his father being taken away in handcuffs by the police.
In these heartbreaking situations, it is often the children who suffer the most, as they are left behind to cope with the stigma of having a parent behind bars and are deprived of a typical childhood experience.
Imagine Avi’s mother, struggling under the emotional and financial burdens that come with
having a husband in prison. And picture his father, sitting in a dark cell, berating himself for letting his family down, wondering if he can ever bring them hope again.
This is where the Aleph Institute comes in, bringing light and inspiration to those who need it most.
“Aleph saved my childhood and helped shape who I am today,” said Avi. “You can come from nothing and become something, if somebody believes in you, and Aleph believed in me.”
During the holidays, children often feel a parent’s absence even more. Every Chanukah, Aleph’s Family Services department sends gifts to more than 400 children with a parent behind bars, with personalized notes from Mommy or Daddy.
“While my husband is literally an inmate, my children feel they are the real prisoners and
struggle with this reality daily,” one mother wrote to us. “My eight-year-old daughter goes to sleep every night clutching the teddy bear that she got ‘from daddy.’ It helps her feel close to him.”
Aleph’s mandate is inspired by the teachings of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, who stressed that even in a place like prison, every person must be able to “maintain a sense that he is created in the image of G-d; he is a human being, who, if only he desires it, can be a reflection of G-dliness in this world.”
In 1977, the Rebbe wrote a Chanukah message to those who were incarcerated, encouraging
them to maintain their faith, even during this dark period in their lives.
“When a person finds himself in a situation of ‘after sunset,’ when the light of day has given light to gloom and darkness…one must not despair…it is necessary to fortify oneself with complete trust in G-d…..the darkness is only temporary, and it will soon be superseded by a bright light……Even a little light dispels a great deal of darkness, how much more so a light that steadily grows in intensity.”
As you kindle your Chanukah lights this year, we invite you to be a beacon of light and hope for those facing unimaginable darkness and suffering. Please consider joining us in our mission, as we advocate for those without a voice, and give help and hope to countless people around the globe.
This Chanukah, Aleph is B”EH raising $1,800,000 to fund our lifesaving work and essential programs. #BeTheLight and donate today at alephlights.org