My 21st Passover in Prison

Jonathan Pollard - April 13, 2006 - (Published in Hebrew Only)

As Passover number 21 in prison approaches, unless a miracle occurs, here is what I will be facing during the week of Chag Ha'Cherut, our national Holiday of Freedom: hunger, hyperthermia, slave labor, loneliness, illness, and betrayal


Every Passover there is not enough food and hunger is my constant companion. This year will be worse: the Kosher-for-Passover foods for sale in the prison commissary were stolen by other inmates. What will be now, I have no idea.


This is the general name given to a variety of heat-related illnesses. Even though the hot weather has arrived in North Carolina, the prison continues to heat the sealed unit I live in. The unit is a steam bath, and my cell a pressure cooker.

Slave Labor

There will be no Passover Seder for me. No Shmura Matzah. No wine. No reclining as a free man. For the week of Passover, just like every other week, I will be washing windows and cleaning toilets. It's nothing personal. I am simply a symbol of the Jewish People.


All alone. No family. No friends. No visitors. I am worried sick about my beloved wife,Esther. who is now in Jerusalem. Esther is still fighting the battle for my release, in spite of her poor health, lack of funds, and absolutely no support from the Government of Israel. I miss her more than words can say. My heart breaks knowing that once again we will both spend this Holiday of Freedom as prisoners.


21 years of prolonged affliction in some of the harshest conditions in prison have destroyed my immune system. My blood pressure is off the scale. I have high cholesterol, Type II diabetes, chronic rheumatic arthritis, symptoms of pre-glaucoma, severe gall bladder attacks, unbiopsied growths in my sinus cavities, in addition to severe chronic sinusitis which is often accompanied by bleeding, dizziness, nausea, and blinding headaches. Adding the stress of not enough to eat and other Passover privations, only makes things worse.


My service to Israel was not for the sake of any political party or leader. I enlisted to serve the Nation, for the good of all. I never asked for any thanks, or for any reward. But even in my worst nightmares, I never dreamed that my Nation would care so little for the mitzvah of Pidyan Shvuyim, that they would raise up to power my former commanding officer, the very man who betrayed me and abandoned me 21 years ago. Instead of a national outcry to ensure that I would be home for Passover, my People went to the ballot boxes and elected Rafi Eitan, my former commander, to Knesset.

While I continue to rot in prison, Eitan celebrates his victory. This is the man who failed to provide an escape plan for me; who gave false testimony against me to the Americans; who masterminded my expulsion from the Embassy; who has not lifted a finger to help me for 21 years. Worse, Eitan has been sitting on the only copy of an important document, a major bargaining chip for my release, for the last 21 years. The election of Rafi Eitan to Knesset is a poke in the eye for the Americans, which I am paying for with my life.

Not To Rely on Miracles

Our tradition teaches us not to rely on miracles. That we must do our hishtadlut, and HaShem will do the rest.

This letter, this message, is my hishtadlut. It is a final cry from the heart, from the depths of my soul (min ha amakim), from out of dire straits (min ha meitzar); a gut-wrenching, earth-shattering geshrei from Sheol, a heartfelt plea to my brothers and sisters, all the House of Israel.

For 21 years, I have been slowly bleeding to death in full view of the entire nation of Israel. For 21 years, my cries for help have gone unheeded, my pleas unanswered. If G-d forbid, time runs out, there will be no way to rectify the sin of standing idly by the blood of a brother.

Hear O Israel! The L-rd is our G-d. The L-rd is One! It is time to do Tshuva! Time for all the House of Israel to unite for the sake of the holy mitzvah of Pidyan Shvuyim! Time to act! Time to pray! Time to influence! Time to demand!

Only through achdut Yisrael, the unity of Israel, can we show the Creator of the World that the House of Israel will no longer be silent; will no longer stand idly by a brother's blood. By redeeming one single captive, all of the House of Israel may indeed redeem itself.

Chag HaCherut is approaching. With G-d's help, salvation comes in the wink of an eye! May this be the Passover of our liberation - collectively and personally--- and may this be the Passover of miraculous redemption for all of the captives of Am Yisrael! Amain ken yihi ratzon!

  • See Also: Hebrew Text: "My 21st Passover in Prison": Jonathan Pollard