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Rabbi Pesach Lerner is giving his support to the Pollard family special initiative to build the Esther Pollard Children’s Center.

“I've been part of the Pollard family for over 30 years,” Rabbi Lerner says.

He first met Esther in his position as Executive Vice President of the National Council of Young Israel, an umbrella organization of 150 synagogues in the United States and Canada.

“I heard about Jonathan but I needed to know more, I wanted to help. But it's hard to help from a distance,” he says. “So I met with Esther and I visited Jonathan in prison, the first of over 100 visits over a 25-year period.”

Rabbi Lerner says that what he remembers most about Esther Pollard is her commitment.

“Her unbelievable faith, her understanding that Jonathan would go free and that she and Jonathan would go to the State of Israel. But at the same time, Esther was always a teacher. That was her profession, that was her career, and she continued that education, that teaching, that explaining – not only to me and of course to Jonathan but to whoever she met.”

He recalls that Esther’s her self-sacrifice for Jonathan “took front row over everything.”

“We could sit here and discuss stories of her doing the impossible, her living in an impossible condition so she could be near Jonathan. Everywhere we went, she made an impression. People walked out and understood that Esther Pollard wasn't fighting for Esther Pollard. She was fighting for Jonathan and people appreciated and respected that self-sacrifice,” Rabbi Lerner says.

“Unfortunately, Esther is no longer with us. She and Jonathan arrived in the Land of Israel and the illness that had been part of her for so many years finally succeeded in taking her, but what can we do to remember the self-sacrifice of Esther? What can we do to continue her mission of education? But more than that, what can we do to continue Esther's love and concern for every Jew? That love and concern focused on her husband Jonathan but that love of concern was there for everybody.

“This concept of an educational center in memory of Esther is so appropriate and so important, not only for Esther's memory but for us to be able to do something

concrete that we can say we kept her memory alive, more than that we kept her mission alive, we kept her alive.”

He adds that the campaign is deeply meaningful, not only for Esther’s memory.

“I know it means a lot to Jonathan,” he explains. “Jonathan really wants this to happen, and all of us together can make this dream come true. We can make this institution alive and we can keep Esther’s memory alive.”

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