Natan Peretz
Natan Peretzצילום: Courtesy

Natan Peretz, 32, is a kind and giving man. Little did he know, an act of kindness would ruin his life.

In December of last year, Peretz visited Europe to pray at the gravesites of several esteemed rabbis. During his travels, he ran into an old acquaintance. After speaking about Natan’s struggles with supporting his family, the acquaintance offered to employ him on “small, easy jobs.” Naively, Natan agreed. The acquaintance gave him a suitcase filled with what he said was dog food, and offered him $500 to transport the bag to Moldova.

It was only when the police approached him at the Moldovan airport that Natan understood he had been deceived. The bag was filled with drugs.

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Natan Peretz was immediately transported to prison, where he waited for 30 excruciating days without trial. The Peretz family assumed that the process would be simple: His innocence would be determined, and he would be released. The Moldovan court systems, however, are rife with bureaucracy. The trial has dragged on for five months.

Now, the Peretz family has run out of funds to continue employing their lawyer. Without anyone to fight for his case, Natan will spend the rest of his life in prison.

In the five months that have passed, Natan has lived off of the small amount of kosher food brought to him by Jews of the community. He has become emaciated, and is ill from malnutrition. He is surrounded by violent criminals, who hate him for being Jewish. More time in Moldovan prison would be a death sentence.

Donations are being collected for this urgent mitzvah of “pidyon shvuyim,” releasing a captive. The campaign page has Natan’s wife Chava’s personal appeal to save her husband’s life. Every day that passes without a lawyer, Natan’s future seems more bleak. Those who help are bringing a ray of hope to the Jewish prisoner, and to the wife and small child he left behind.

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