A Birthday Letter for Jonathan Pollard
Justice4JPnews - August 7, 2009
J4JP Prefacing Note:
This letter to Jonathan Pollard by Eleonora Shiffrin is shared with permission of the author. J4JP encourages everyone to write to Jonathan Pollard. It is never too late to send birthday wishes! Jonathan refers to the mail he receives as his "oxygen". Let's keep it flowing! His address is as shown in the letter below.
* * *
Jonathan Pollard #09185-016
c/o FCI Butner
P.O. Box 1000
August 7, 2009 B"H
I've been thinking of a good message to send you for your birthday and a few days ago I got it! I happened to be in a situation that made my day and I hope it will make yours as well.
The day started with an anticipation of something negative: I had to bring my car through a test, which is usually connected with some unexpected surprises. Sure enough, after going through the mill I was told that, in order to receive the desired government stamp of approval, I had to have my rear tires changed. They told me I can have it done right there, at the adjacent garage, and, with a heavy sigh, I drove my car there.
A young Arab worker was happy to oblige and, having shown to me what was so bad about my rear tires, immediately proceeded removing them, before I even had the time to ask what the cost would be. I was standing there, gloomily watching him work, while he, being in a talkative mood, tried to engage me in a conversation. This he did by way of saying a couple of sentences in Russian. I didn't conceal my surprise, because his Russian was better than could be expected of a young Israeli Arab. So I asked him where he had picked up his Russian, to which he gladly responded that he has a Russian fiancé. It was apparent that he expected me to express some enthusiasm, and the expression on my face caused his bewilderment. "You don't like this?" he asked. "No, I don't think it is a good idea to marry outside your ethnic group, it is wrought with unpleasant surprises", I answered. "Oh no, he said, my uncle is married to a Russian woman, has a few children with her and is happy." "Where did he get her?" I asked, expecting to hear that she is one of the many non-Jewish Russian immigrants in Israel, and was again surprised to hear that his uncle had gone to Russia to study dentistry and came with a diploma and a wife.
Well, I hear quite a lot about Russian women being ready to marry anybody just in order to get out of there, and many of them marry Arabs, and come to Israel thus increasing the non-Jewish population here. I started feeling that this conversation was only aggravating my mood, and was about to start looking for something better to do while waiting, when the owner of the garage got out of his office and stopped near my car to examine what his worker was doing. "Changing the rear tires?" he asked. I nodded. "Why not the front ones as well? They don't look any better than the rear ones." And he pointed to the obvious cracks, which I was surprised had not attracted the attention of the tester. "Besides, the guy went on, we presently offer a deal: pay for three tires and get four". It didn't take long for me to realize that the offer sounded quite reasonable, and I asked how much the "pleasure" would cost me. At this point the guy turned to me and said: "To you it will only cost the price of three tires. You'll get all the work for free", and he pointed to the "Free Pollard" button which I always wear on my lapel. "I don't often meet people who do anything for Pollard," he said, " and you have made my day!" "Well, you sure made my day", I said, "because it is not every day that I meet people who care about doing anything for Pollard!"
When I stepped into the garage office to make the payment and looked around, Itzik's (that was the owner's name) reaction became understandable: all the walls of the small office were covered with Rav Mordechai Eliyahu's pictures. There was Rav Eliyahu at the Wall, and Rav Eliyahu giving a lesson, and Rav Eliyahu with his stuff. And above the desk there was a large picture of Rav Eliyahu at the bar-mitzva of Itzik's son, with his hands on the boy's head, apparently giving blessing. And before we had the time to talk about my tires, we embarked on a conversation about the Rav and about you, and how much Kvod Ha-Rav loves you and cares about you, and how wonderful you both are.
All of a sudden I was no longer upset about my tires and the unexpected outlay of money. In an instant, this quite usually looking -young Sephardic Jew became a friend, or, rather, a member of my tribe, and we continued to exchange stories connected to Rav Eliyahu and to you and Esther, and were both feeling as if we had known each other for years! When Itzik went out to tell the worker what to do about my car, he gave me a book which turned out to be a life story of Rav Eliyahu with lots of pictures. I immediately felt that I want to buy this book for you and Esther, and Itzik promised to try to find a copy for me.
Among the stories of himself, he told me of a recent situation when he had been stopped by the police for no apparent reason, and "I knew right away what it was for, he said: a few days before I had treated somebody improperly." The policeman started writing a ticket, then all of a sudden stopped and was about to change his mind. "I'll let you go", he started, but Itzik protested: "No way! You started writing, so finish your job, please!" And he explained to me his seemingly strange behavior: "I had known I'd have to pay a price for mistreating that person, so when I was stopped I knew it was the punishment, and if I try to avoid it, I'll later pay a higher price."
Simplistic? Maybe. But you don't expect this level of self-criticism and soul-searching from your average garage owner. Not if he is not a Torah Jew, I reminded myself.
From our conversation, from the way he spoke, and what he spoke about, it was quite obvious to me that Itzik was an observant Jew. And yet, there was no kippa on his head, which surprised me greatly. So before leaving, I couldn't help but ask: why? And here I was in for another surprise.
"The kippa is a great responsibility, the guy said, and I am not ready yet. I may still do something which is not quite OK for a Jew. So if I have no kippa on, it is my personal responsibility, but if I am wearing a kippa then it becomes chillul Ha-Shem (a desecration of G-d's name) in the eyes of the non-religious or the goyim".
I left the place awed and grateful for the lesson. It sounded almost as a response to your account of how you fought for your kippa on the US TV. All your years in prison ever since have been a confirmation that you were ready for the responsibility of wearing a kippa, and you taught us all a lesson of how a real Jew should act. (J4JP: See "The Kippah on my head"> by Jonathan Pollard")
I also left there grateful for being able to write to you that the People you belong to and made your sacrifice for, are worth it.
You may not realize it, but I sometimes I feel as if I owe you of money because of the discounts that I have received from time to time, over the years, from simple Jews all around the country, who identify with you and want to do something for you. When they see the "Free Pollard" button, they cannot think of anything else to do, so they extend themselves to the wearer of the button, offering whatever they can, and even discounts! Everywhere I go, upon seeing the button, people ask about your health and spirit, bless you and say that they pray for you every day and long for the day of your arrival home!
On your birthday, I bless you with endurance and strength and confidence that the day is very near (B"H) when you will join your beloved wife, Esther, and your People here at home, in Eretz Israel. (Amain!)
Your loving friend,
J4JP note about the author:
Eleonora Shiffrin writes and reports in Russian for Arutz7/Israelnationalnews Russian News. Shiffrin, the widow of the late and great Soviet Refusnik, Avraham Shiffrin, is the J4JP liason with the Russian speaking community.