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December 22, 2014 / 30 Kislev, 5775
 
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It’s My Opinion: The Empty Chair


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The Passover Seder is the most celebrated religious event among Jews in America. Attendance exceeds even Yom Kippur services. There is something very fundamental about this holiday rite. It is tied to the redemption and birth of the Jewish nation. Unfortunately, there is one Jew who will not be attending a family Seder, and hasn’t for the past 27 years. His name is Jonathan Pollard.

Pollard was working as a civilian American Naval analyst in the mid-1980s. He became aware of information being withheld from Israel that was vital for its security. He attempted to go through normal protocol to warn Israel but hit a stone wall. When his continued efforts proved futile, he passed the information directly to Israel. He felt that innocent Jewish lives were in jeopardy.

Pollard’s activities were discovered. He was arrested and charged with sharing information with a friendly government, without the intent to harm the United States.

Pollard agreed to a plea deal. The median sentence for this type of charge has always been two to four years in prison. The American government did not honor the agreement and Pollard was sentenced to life in prison. No other individual in the history of the United States has ever received a life sentence for this type of infraction.

At this year’s Seder, set a place for Jonathan. His continued incarceration is a disgrace. We must insist, with a united voice, “Let our brother go!”

To learn more about Jonathan Pollard and how you can help, visit www.jonathanpollard.org.

About the Author: Shelley Benveniste is South Florida editor of The Jewish Press.


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