Even Though We Have Sinned

October 13, 1997 - Professor Jack Wertheimer, Provost, Jewish Theological Seminary

A recurring theme of Jewish Prayers in the just-completed penitential season is our pleas that God not abandon us even though we have sinned (al taazvenu). Jews in turn are enjoined to imitate God by acting with compassion.

In our own day, a Jew who has committed a crime has been abandoned by key sectors of the Jewish leadership. Jonathan Pollard once again celebrated the Jewish holiday season in a prison cell, serving a disproportionately harsh and open-ended jail sentence.

Whereas Jewish religious leaders across the denominational spectrum have forthrightly called for Pollard's release, the public policy arms of the American Jewish community remain largely indifferent. The current leadership of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations, the voice of American Jewry on international matters, appears unwilling to invest its prestige to press the governments of the United States and Israel to work out a deal. Where is the compassion of our American Jewish leaders?

Even more shamefully, the present government of Israel displays greater indifference to Pollard than any of its predecessors. A government that finds ways to strike deals to release Hamas terrorists in exchange for its agents, cannot be bothered to negotiate the release of a Jew who, however misguided, tried to save the

life of Israelis.

Has the government of Israel no sense of responsibility to a a man it was all too eager to exploit?

It is high time that our Jewish leaders press for the release of Jonathan Pollard. He has paid a steep price for his crimes.

His continuing incarceration is a miscarriage of justice.

We demand of our leaders that they not abandon Jonathan Pollard.