Two Forgotten Jews: Happy Update
Baruch Hashem, everybody is talking about the release of Sholom Rubashkin. It truly is a miraculous event and seeing pictures and videos of him outside the prison walls is unbelievable!
Back in 2014, when NOBODY was mentioning his name, Shmuel Sackett wrote an article entitled "Two Forgotten Jews", about Rubashkin and Jonathan Pollard.
Here is the beginning of that article:
"We live in a very busy world, that is getting busier all the time. With all the modern conveniences we have (I really call them "toys") which promises to make life simpler and easier, all statistics show that the modern man and woman have less family time, less free time and more stress than ever before. We are constantly running, texting and calling. We dovin Shacharis in the morning - when it is still dark outside – so we can get to work on time. We come home 20 minutes before Shabbos starts and run to Shul on Friday night with wet hair. To summarize life: We are always in a rush with little time to focus. Sad, but true.
With this kind of life, it is very easy to forget things, even very important things. After all, who has time to remember all the things we do and especially if these things are outside our daily life – who even thinks about them? If this is true, and unfortunately it is, how sad and tragic! Is this what life is all about – paying bills, shopping for food, answering emails and going to Shul? What about our destiny, our mission in life, our purpose? What about helping others and lending a hand? What about caring for those who need help? It is vital that we sit down and rearrange our "to-do list", making sure that we focus – not only on ourselves – but on others as well. We need to stop, think and refocus. We need to understand that, above everything else, we are Jews – members of the nation chosen by Hashem Himself!! – and that we must make time to assist others in that exclusive club.
When I recently sat down and thought about this, I came up with two names of fellow Jews who have all been forgotten by the entire Jewish world. These men's stories are completely different and their circumstances are worlds apart but they share one horrible thing: They are both rotting away in an American prison. I am referring to Jonathan Pollard and Sholom Rubashkin and we must figure out a way to help them.
Let me start with Sholom Rubashkin. First of all, we need to publicize his name – which has virtually been forgotten. The injustice done to him is incredible and 100% anti-Semitic. He was convicted of a crime that carries an average sentence (to a first-time offender, which he was) of 12 months, but he received 27 YEARS in prison! When this happened, there was a public outcry, a concert on his behalf and various fund-raisers to help with his legal defense and PR campaign. However, in the last few years he has fallen off the radar screen. I have not heard his name, read anything about his case – nothing. But it is worse than that. I have not heard any of the leading Rabbonim ask that we say Tehillim for him, learn a mishna for him or even give Tzedaka for him. He is simply rotting in prison and maybe in a few years he will jump back into the headlines for a few weeks. Is this what we have become… a "flavor-of-the-month" religion where different things pop into our conscience when it is "in" or "cool"? In the meantime, do we simply let our brother rot away? We must do something NOW! Saying that we are busy is not a valid excuse. This case must be back in center stage and even schools must teach about it. Keep Sholom Rubashkin in your prayers, your thoughts and your conversations. Write about him to the local papers, on Facebook and speak to your politicians. Sentencing a first-time offender to 27 years for a non-violent crime when the average is ONE year is horribly wrong and must be reversed immediately. Do what you can to help him."
Thanks to our Merciful Father in Heaven, this story has a happy ending and Reb Sholom is back with his family. We wish him well until 128 (that's 120 plus the 8 years he sat in prison)!