Leaders of American Judaism’s two largest religious streams visited Israeli spy Jonathan Jay Pollard in prison July 11 to underline their demand that he be freed after serving 28 years of a life sentence.
Rabbi Julie Schonfeld, executive vice president of the Conservative rabbinical organization the Rabbinical Assembly, and Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, along with other leaders, traveled to see Pollard at the Butner Federal Correction Complex in North Carolina, according to a press release released by leaders of the two movements four days after their visit.
The visit, which lasted two hours, was organized by Rabbi Pesach Lerner, former executive vice president of the National Council for Young Israel, a right-leaning Modern Orthodox group.
Pollard, 58, pleaded guilty in 1986 of stealing classified information and passing it to Israel while he was working as a civilian intelligence analyst for the U.S. military.
In their press statement, Jacobs, Schonfeld, and Rabbi David Saperstein of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, who also visited Pollard, termed his sentence “grossly disproportionate to any other American convicted of similar crimes involving an allied nation.”
“The rabbis reassert, more strongly than ever, that his release is overdue,” the statement read. “Hearing the painful narrative of his long years in prison renewed their determination to help secure his release.”