Israel's Former Chief Rabbi Visits Jonathan Pollard
Stirs Activist Campaign for Pollard's Presidential Release

National Council of Young Israel Media Release - June 19, 2007

New York, NY - Former Israeli Sephardic Chief Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu recently met with Jonathan Pollard, energizing a renewed campaign to achieve Pollard's release through presidential clemency.

Pollard has no other legal recourse except to seek a presidential release. Last year, the Supreme Court denied his request of an appeal of a life sentence handed down in 1986 for spying on the US for Israel.

According to Rabbi Pesach Lerner, Executive Vice President of the National Council of Young Israel (NCYI), Rabbi Eliyahu is "one of the few in the lead" of a vigorous campaign to free Pollard before Bush's impending departure from office in January, 2009. The drive, spearheaded by NCYI, with the participation of national and regional Jewish organizations, has Rabbis and community leaders calling upon all Jews to convey the message to President Bush that Pollard has served long enough and that the time has come to free him.

In a recent letter to President Bush, Rabbi Eliyahu wrote: "...I am willing to act as Jonathan Pollard's guarantor, to take him into my custody and to accept full responsibility for him. He is a dignified man, who is deserving of special consideration."

Rabbi Lerner is among Pollard's most stalwart supporters. He accompanied Rabbi Eliyahu to Butner Federal Prison in North Carolina, where Pollard is serving his 22nd year. Because Rabbi Eliyahu doesn't speak English and the Navy monitors Pollard's visits, Rabbi Lerner translated the conversation to and from Hebrew.

"Rabbi Eliyahu has adopted Jonathan and his wife," said Rabbi Lerner. "He gives them time and attention. Wherever he goes, he talks about Jonathan's cause."

Rabbi Eliyahu composed a prayer in Hebrew for Jonathan Pollard, and it has been translated into English; the prayer is available at

For materials on the Pollard case or to get involved in the campaign for his freedom, please contact the National Council of Young Israel at 212-929-1525, ext. 114.

Photo Caption: In Butner, North Carolina following a visit with Jonathan Pollard: Former Israeli Sephardic Chief Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu ( left) and Rabbi Pesach Lerner, Executive Vice President of the National Council of Young Israel.

Founded in 1912 in New York by young Jewish adults, many the children of recent immigrants, Young Israel began as a single synagogue and evolved into an Orthodox movement of over 150 synagogue branches in the US and Canada and over 60 synagogue branches in greater Israel. The National Council of Young Israel (NCYI) serves more than 25,000 affiliated families throughout the United States, Canada and Israel.