The holiday commemorating G-d’s redemption of His firstborn nation from Egyptian bondage is approaching, and a new Haggadah dedicated to Jonathan Pollard was issued today (Monday) for the occasion.
Pollard, 55, is now in his 25th year of incarceration in the United States, sentenced to life in prison after being convicted on one count of transferring classified information to US-ally Israel.
The publishers of the new Haggadah – the ritual text used to guide the annual festive Passover “seder” meal – say that Pollard’s extended imprisonment “is a test for us all regarding the extent of the mutual responsibility that lies at the base of our very national existence. Jonathan Pollard, may G-d strengthen him, has been decaying in U.S. prison for over 24 years, and if we are not privileged to see his release soon, this coming Seder night [March 29] will be his 25th in the prison of that ‘friendly nation.’”
This coming Sunday will mark 8,888 days that Pollard has been in prison.
Some 20,000 copies of the Haggadah will be printed, “and if we need more, we’ll print more,” said Asher Mivtzari, one of the forces behind the project. The book will be distributed in towns all around Israel as soon as it comes off the presses, and will be sold for the token price of ten shekels.
The Haggadah was edited by Rabbi Gabi Kadosh, the rabbi of the northern Negev town Shomriyah, where several dozens expelled Gush Katif families have made their home; he was the rabbi of the Gush Katif community of Ganei Tal for many years. Rabbi Kadosh compiled what many rabbis and public figures have said about Pollard, as well as Torah thoughts on the tremendous importance in Judaism of Redemption of Captives.
Passover was traditionally a time when extra efforts were made to redeem captives. The Book of Our Heritage, by Rabbi Eliyahu Ki-Tov, cites a traditional practice in many Jewish communities “that on the morning of Passover eve, the leaders of the community would go to the jails in and around their town, checking to see if there were any Jewish prisoners, whom they would then attempt to free.”
Asked why no English edition is available, Mivtzari explained that the first priority in the campaign to free Pollard is Israel, where it is hoped that public pressure will be exerted on the government to work for his release. “In addition, the entire project was done amazingly quickly and there was no time to think of adding anything else,” Mivtzari said.
The name of the new publication is “Freedom Haggadah: Let's not 'pass over' our brother Jonathan.” Volunteers will sell it door-to-door, and copies can be ordered at <www.freepollard.net>.
From the book’s introduction:
“Jonathan sacrificed his freedom for me, for you and for all of us, so that we would be able to live as free people in the Land of Israel, with our children forever. He simply wanted us to live and not die, that we should not fall victim to the evil schemes of those who hate us and want to destroy us… He is paying a terrible price: separated from his wife and imprisoned in disgraceful conditions that impair his health and endanger his life.”