Pollard Advocate Urges Persistence

Rabbi Pesach Lerner: I am awed by Jewish Unity

Avraham Weissman - Hamodia - January 24, 2009

One day after President Bush left office without granting clemency to Jonathan Pollard, Rabbi Pesach Lerner, Executive Vice President of the National Council of Young Israel, who has worked tirelessly on behalf of Pollard, told of his deep disappointment, while expressing his awe and gratitude at the great many who made the effort to contact the president.

Pollard is in his 24th year of a

life sentence

for passing military data to a friendly country - Israel. This offense has a median sentence of 2 to 4 years.

"On behalf of Jonathan Pollard, I wish to convey his deep appreciation to Klal Yisrael, men, women and children who called and wrote to the President," said Rabbi Lerner, his voiced breaking from emotion.

"There were chadarim in Lakewood that made it class assignments to write a letter to the to the president. The tefillos, the achdus, the care and concern meant so much to Jonathan, gave him unbelievable chizuk.

"My postscript is that Jonathan only heard about it. I experienced it. The copies of the faxes and letters were sent to me.

"We know that tens of thousands of people called the White House; they had to add more people to answer the phones.

"I wish to express my feelings of awe as I witness that, baruch Hashem, when Klal Yisrael puts their mind to it and gets together there can be a phenomenal achdus. If there is nothing more to take out of this, it is that we are one people and together we can accomplish so much more."

Rabbi Lerner chronicled the many prominent individuals who played key behind-the-scene roles in this massive effort. (A full interview with Rabbi Lerner, with details of the massive behind-the-scenes effort, will iy"H appear in a future issue.)

As is true whenever Jews daven for a specific cause and appear not to be answered, Rabbi Lerner stressed that all the tefillos for Jonathan were not wasted. As the team effort on Pollard's behalf takes a breather to regroup, reassess and decide how to proceed, Rabbi Lerner asks for tefillos to continue.

"We are not giving up," he said.

In a statement, Jonathan and Esther Pollard expressed their deepest thanks and appreciation to Rabbi Pesach Lerner and the National Council of Young Israel, which spearheaded the Pollard clemency campaign in the United States, as well as to their attorneys in the U.S. and in Israel, and the many others who invested time and effort for this campaign.

The statement, released through the Justice for Jonathan Pollard team, stated that "Given the blood, sweat and tears that went into this campaign, it is deeply troubling that it was not successful. President Bush is gone and Jonathan, unjustly, remains in prison. We are, of course, deeply disappointed and very, very sad. Now that we have absorbed the initial blow and dried our tears, everyone is asking what went wrong," the statement said. No one on the Pollard team seemed to konw for certain the answer to that question.

"This was no ordinary campaign. After 24 years, we pulled out all stops in working for Jonathan's release. We had the best lawyers. They filed a dynamite petition that really explained the massive injustice and clearly demonstrated the gross disproportionality of Jonathan's sentence. We worked around the clock lobbying and making the right contacts. We had access to the White House and intensive behind-the-scenes contact. We had recommendations from those who matter most in the clemency process. We had massive grass-roots support and participation in the U.S. and Israel. In short, we left no stone unturned in doing whatever it took to present the best case to the President for commutation of Jonathan's life sentence to the 24 years he has already served."

The Pollard statement's conclusion was identical to Rabbi Lerner's closing sentiments: "Now more than ever is the time for prayer. This time we are praying for an open miracle: Jonathan home. Alive. Now."

  • See Also: The original article in Hamodia: (PDF files): Front CoverArticle