PRISONצילום: Shutterstock

“Do you want to die, Jew boy?”

“I’ll punch that yarmulke right off your head!”

“Where’s your G-d now?”

These are the terrifying voices that Natan Peretz claims echo down the halls of the Moldovan prison where he is currently being held.

Peretz was visiting Europe in December of last year to pray at the graves of esteemed rabbis. A naive young father from a religious upbringing, he happily agreed to transport a bag of what he claims he thought was dog food for an old acquaintance across the border to Moldova. However, the bag did not contain dog food, but illegal substances.

For five months since then, Natan has been in prison. The only Jew present, and a conspicuously religious Jew at that, Natan lives in constant danger for his life. His fellow prisoners are violent and threaten him at every turn.

Right now, the only thing keeping Natan in prison is money, now that the courts have determined his honest mistake, they have decreed that he can be released on payment of a $120,000 fine. Natan is a yeshiva student, and the fee is far beyond his family’s wildest imagination.

Meanwhile, Natan’s condition worsens. He is reportedly suffering from severe malnutrition, as he survives on kosher food brought to him by volunteers. His wife and three-year-old daughter await him at home with a sense of profound helplessness.

Natan’s wife is now raising money to bring him home. Donations have begun to pour in, but they are still far from reaching their goal. Every day that passes until they have reached the $120,000, Natan lives in fear and hunger.