My Fascinating Friend Natan (plus untold Pollard Story)

Baruch Gordon,

לבן ריק
לבן ריק
צילום: ערוץ 7
Baruch Gordon
Baruch Gordon founded the Arutz Sheva - website in 1995 and served as manager and News Director for its English Media Department for 14 years. Today he serves as Director of Development and Public Relations for the Israel Defense Forces Preparatory Academy in Bet El and Bet El Institutions. He also directs which offers countrywide tours of Israel. Baruch founded in Bet El a Smicha Program for working men, and received his smicha in 2014 from Rav Zalman Nechemia Goldberg. Baruch served in the IDF Search and Rescue Unit. Born and raised in Memphis, he was elected International President of United Synagogue Youth in high school and soon after became religious while studying at Tufts University. Baruch resides with his wife Anat, a native Israeli, in Bet El and has 7 Sabra children and even more grandchildren. ...

As a PR person and fundraiser for Bet El Institutions, I meet many colorful people.

One of the most fascinating was Natan (Norman) Friedman, a real estate developer in Manhattan. Natan dedicated countless hours and dollars towards a cause for which, as far as I know, he was the sole activist: aiding Israelis convicted to serving 5+ years in US prisons.

Norman Friedman

He helped get them moved to better prisons in the US, and even to Israel to finish their time. He submitted appeals to get them released. He improved their conditions. He helped any way he could and flew around the US to do so.

Natan was 89 when he passed away this past Thursday, Jan. 12, 2017 (14 Tevet).

Natan told me that he met with Jonathan Pollard in 1990. A few weeks later, Pollard's sister called asking Natan to accept a collect call from Pollard in prison. At that time, Pollard was in one of worst jails in the USA – Marion, where he suffered terrible abuse.

Pollard told Natan that in the cell next to him sits a mafia leader who was about to be released. The Mafioso commanded the respect of all the inmates. But since he had informed on other mafia members, he was destined to be murdered upon release, as was mafia custom.

Pollard said that this Mafioso had literally saved Pollard’s life a dozen times, when other inmates ganged up to kill him. To return the favor, Pollard asked if Natan could arrange for him to move to safety in Israel.

Natan went to the world-renowned Jewish sage, the Lubavitcher Rebbe, to ask if he could lobby to bring the mafioso to Israel. The Rebbe responded with a thundering yes, since anyone who saves a Jewish life, is as if he saved an entire world.

Empowered by the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Natan and activist Herut Lapid went to the Israel Interior Minister, who agreed to help and began drafting a special parliamentary bill to grant entry to the Mafioso.

At the last minute, the Mafioso changed his mind and decided to stay in the US. He was released and within 6 months was murdered.

Most people knew Natan as Chairman of the Board of Bnei Akiva USA, the famous religious-Zionist youth movement. He joined the movement in 1938 when he was 11 years old.

Few knew of his selfless dedication to helping Israelis in American jails.

Natan was a true leader both in philanthropy and deed; the Jewish People and the Jewish State were always on his mind. Natan, you will be sorely missed.

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Click here for another article on this great man Natan Friedman.