About the funeral without the son

Orli Azulai - Yediot Achronot - July 10, 2011 Originally published in Hebrew June 21, 2011. May be reprinted with full attribution.

The Pollard family members walked slowly on the grass of the cemetery, carrying the sealed coffin of Morris Pollard to his final resting place. Occasionally they raised their gazes to the gloomy skies that wept tears of rain, with their last hope gradually fading: perhaps the helicopter bringing Jonathan Pollard would appear at the very last moment so that he could say good-bye to his father forever.

But the helicopter of the American Prison Authority did not appear, and the son of the deceased did not appear at the entrance gate of the cemetery to say the Mourner's Kaddish prayer at his father's grave.

The mourning over the death of 95-year-old Morris Pollard was strained by a sense of frustration and uncertainty. The American government did not respond, neither positively or negatively, to the request of the Israeli Prime Minister or the appeals of the family members. No one knew if the prisoner would receive a tiny reprieve from prison to accompany his father on his final journey. It would have been his first and only furlough since Pollard was incarcerated 26 years ago. Alas, the government which refused to allow Jonathan to visit his dying father in his final days, did not grant him even this one last act of grace.

A hundred relatives and friends congregated in the Jewish Orthodox Cemetery in the Mishawaka town in Indiana. They sadly recalled that ten years ago, when the mother Molly (Malka) Pollard was buried adjacent to the plot in which the father was interred, her son was not present: then, too. Jonathan Pollard's requests to say goodbye to his mother on her deathbed and to attend her funeral were turned down.

When his father started to fail at the end of his life, Jonathan called him from prison. The dying Morris was not able to speak and his son Harvey placed the telephone near his ear so that he could hear Jonathan's parting words blessing his father, wishing him a peaceful easy transition, and requesting of him, "When you see Mom in Heaven, please kiss her for me and tell her that I love her and miss her."

During the funeral, Pollard the prisoner remained incarcerated in Butner, North Carolina, 1,200 kilometers away. His sister Carol mentioned him in the eulogy she made at the gravesite, "Until his very last day on earth, our father agonized over the fact that he was not able to bring about Jonathan's release." Only a few days before his death, Morris Pollard told his family members that he couldn't sleep at nights, troubled by thoughts about the miscarriage of justice visited upon his son.

The funeral service was supposed to begin at ten am, but a torrential downpour caused a half-hour delay. Some viewed it as a sign from the Heavens: They hoped it meant that Pollard was on his way from prison and the delay would allow him to arrive on time. But this did not happen. "This is gross insensitivity of the American government," was voiced by many of the participants at the funeral. "They simply ignored our requests. They ignored us and turned their backs on us."

Morris Pollard was interred next to his wife, Molly (Malka). After she passed away, Morris had his name engraved next to hers on the joint marble tombstone in Hebrew and English. "This is one of the hardest days in Jonathan's life," said one of the relatives. "Not only was he not allowed to come to the gravesite, he was not given the opportunity to even momentarily reunite with his father and close the circle. According to what I heard, Jonathan sat in his room all day where he prayed and meditated, waiting impatiently for his wife to arrive, refusing to talk about the pain."