illustrationצילום: Shutterstock

Until last year, Natan Peretz had spent his whole life in Israel, surrounded by other Jews. Apart from the occasional terror attack or war, antisemitism was not something he experienced. Now, he lives in constant danger of being murdered. The reason for this change is tragic:

In December of last year, Natan visited Europe to pray at the graves of several rabbis. According to Natan, after agreeing to transport a bag for a friend over the border, he learned that he had been deceived as to the bag’s contents, and was arrested. As soon as he was thrown into Moldovan prison, the religious young Jewish man with peyot and a fearful look in his eyes had a target on his back.

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It didn’t take long for the threats to start. Violent criminals took whatever opportunity they could to establish dominance. They could see that Natan wasn’t like them: He was weak, not a criminal, and most importantly he was Jewish.

For five painful months, Natan’s trial has been pushed off and delayed. At this point it is not clear what is a great danger to his life, being beaten to death, or starvation. He lives off of a small amount of kosher food brought to him by community volunteers. Once a vibrant, happy yeshiva student and family man, he is now fearful, quiet, and emaciated.

Natan’s wife, who waits for him in Israel together with their 3-year-old daughter, is genuinely frightened for Natan’s survival. A new piece has now entered the puzzle, however, to make their situation even more terrifying: They have run out of funds to employ Natan’s lawyer.

If they do not somehow find a way to afford the legal fees, Natan could spend the rest of his life wasting away in prison. And if the threats of his fellow prisoners are legitimate, the rest of his life may not be long.

Donations are being collected for readers to do the mitzvah of “pidyon shvuyim” (releasing a Jewish captive). Funds go toward employing a lawyer to prove Natan’s innocence and bring him home. Every day in captivity brings him closer to death.

If the Jewish People unite to help the Peretz family, he can live to see his family again.

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