Jonathan Pollard Honored At Todah B'Katom Ceremony
Justice4JP Release - September 29, 2005
See photos from this event!
Jonathan Pollard was the final honoree a the Todah B'Katom ceremony which was held last night in Gan Sacher in Jerusalem.
Todah B'Katom, (Thanks in Orange) a huge, well-organized outdoor ceremony was organized to pay tribute to the youth of Israel in thanks for their devotion to the Land and People of Israel. Organizers thought it would be fitting to also pay tribute to Jonathan Pollard who is regarded by Israel's youth as the penultimate model of self-sacrifice for Am Yisrael. Pollard's wife, Esther, was on hand to accept the honor on her husband's behalf.
Numerous speakers, including Rabbi Yigal Kamenetsky, Rabbi Motti Elon, MK Tzvi Hendel, Principal David Hatuel and a host of Gush Katif survivors and expellees paid tribute to the wonderful youth of Israel who fought to save Gush Katif and who give of their time and effort for a host of Jewish causes in the Land.
Greetings and blessings from Torah sages, HaRav Mordecai Eliyahu and HaRav Avraham Shapira were read aloud. Speeches were interspersed with live entertainment, divrei Torah, as well as recorded songs, poems and film clips shown on two gigantic video screens on either side of the massive stage erected in the park for the event.
The crowd wept openly when a video showing the utter destruction of Jewish homes and buildings in Gush Katif was screened. Rabbinic speakers responded to the video by vowing "This is just the beginning of the fight. We will return to Gush Katif!"
A number of young people, representative of the entire crowd, were chosen to receive awards. Others were asked to speak. A number of honorees were asked to come up on stage to light a giant torch-like menorah.
The 3 hour ceremony concluded with Esther Pollard being called to the stage to accept a beautiful bouquet of flowers in thanks for her work to free her husband, and to hear words of praise spoken for Jonathan's devotion to the Land of Israel and his sacrifice on behalf of the nation. A throng of youngsters holding orange helium balloons surrounded her on the stage.
Esther was accompanied to the microphone by a new friend, a young girl, Shani Maimon of Gadid, Gush Katif. Shani cradled Jonathan Pollard's framed Gush Katif Citizenship certificate in her arms as carefully and as lovingly as if she were carrying Jonathan himself.
Explaining that "This is my husband's most precious possession in the world," Esther pointed to Jonathan's Honorary Citizenship certificate and asked Shani Maimon to read aloud the words inscribed upon it. Shani graciously read: "This certificate testifies that Jonathan Pollard is an Honored Citizen of the Gaza Regional Council. This certificate is awarded with deepest thanks and love as an expression of appreciation by the residents of the Gaza Strip for his actions to save the lives of the People of Israel, through enormous self-sacrifice and great devotion."
Esther thanked Shani and turned to the crowd thanking them from the bottom of her heart for the honor they had extended to Jonathan. She also told them:
"What 20 years in American prisons, and the worst tortures and afflictions have never succeeded in doing to Jonathan, the expulsion from Gush Katif did. Jonathan was devastated by it. I watched the video tonight of the churban - the wanton destruction of Jewish homes and property - and through my tears I kept thanking G-d that Jonathan never got to see this with his own eyes because it would surely have destroyed him.
"I spoke with Jonathan before I came here tonight. He asked me to give you a message. He said to tell you to please hang on to your keys, because we going to home to Gush Katif! G-d willing, sooner than anyone thinks! Amain!"
Esther also told the youthful crowd, over and over again throughout the evening, "You are the reason that Jonathan lives and breathes. You are all his children! You are the reason he hangs on, the reason he still fights to come home. We love you all!"
As Esther concluded her remarks, a young Pollard Youth volunteer was asked to step forward and present Esther with a huge bouquet of orange flowers. Esther accepted the flowers with great emotion. The crowd cheered wildly as the youngsters on stage released orange balloons into the air as a final salute to Jonathan. The balloons rose up and floated away in an orange cloud as the Todah B'Katom ceremony came to an end.
Official reports indicate that upwards of 13,000 young people attended the Todah B'Katom Ceremony.