Rabbi David Saperstein Transmits Letter to President Clinton Urging Clemency for Jonathan Pollard
RAC Press Release - December 18, 2000
WASHINGTON, December 18, 2000 - Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the
Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, today forwarded a letter
from Rhea Schindler to President Clinton urging that convicted spy Jonathan
Pollard be freed. Pollard was convicted in 1984 of spying for Israel,
and has served one of the longest prison terms of any American ever
convicted of spying for an ally of the United States.
The letter was written by Rhea Schindler, widow of the late Rabbi
Alexander Schindler, who served as both President of the Union of
American Hebrew Congregations (1973-1996) and Chairman of the Conference of
Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations (1976-1978). Rabbi
Schindler, who passed away unexpectedly in November, was one of
American Jewry's most passionate and respected voices, especially on issues
relating to the American-Israeli relationship.
In the letter, Mrs. Schindler cites her husband's long-time commitment
to Jonathan Pollard's case and the personal friendship that she and Rabbi
Schindler developed with Pollard. "We do not deny his guilt, nor does
he, but he has paid the price - sixteen years in prison," she writes.
Rabbi Saperstein, a longtime friend of the Schindlers who has a history
of working closely with President Clinton on issues from civil rights to
international debt relief, agreed to forward the letter to the
President. Saperstein has also worked on the Pollard case, having visited Pollard
in prison last year and having repeatedly spoken out in favor of clemency
Speaking of the letter, Saperstein said, "There is no couple in American
Jewish life whom I respect and admire more than Alex and Rhea Schindler.
After the amazing accomplishments of Alex's life, it is an honor to be
able to continue his commitment to see Jonathan Pollard freed from
prison. As Rhea writes to the President, commuting Pollard's sentence 'would be
an act of justice and compassion'; no other qualities could better reflect
the commitments by which Alex led his life."
The complete text of Mrs. Schindler's letter follows:
Dear President Clinton:
My husband, Rabbi Alexander Schindler died November fifteenth. One
of the issues he felt strongly about was the executive incarceration of
Jonathan Pollard. I do not need to repeat the details of the case, as I
know you are very conversant with them. Alex visited Jonathan on
several occasions in North Carolina, and we were both on the phone with him at
least three times a week.
We do not deny his guilt, nor does he, but we believe he has paid the price - sixteen years in prison. What spy, working for an ally of the U.S., has been imprisoned this long?
I pray that before leaving office you will find the strength to pardon Jonathan Pollard. It would be an act of justice and compassion.
The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism is the Washington office of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations (UAHC), whose 900 congregations across North America encompass 1.5 million Reform Jews, and the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR), whose membership includes over 1700 Reform rabbis.