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The Feds Are Spending $21,799 On Yom Kippur Meals For Jewish Inmates

The Federal Bureau of Prisons has set aside $21,799 for kosher items for Jewish prisoners in facilities in the eye of Hurricane Florence this Yom Kippur, TMZ reported.

Kosher food in prisons has been the subject of much media attention in recent years, from a storyline on Netflix’s “Orange Is The New Black” about prisoners pretending to be Jewish to get kosher meals, to the Tunisian Jew denied kosher food in prison, to Florida’s court issued order to begin serving kosher meals to eligible candidates.

Some prisoners tend to see kosher food as safer. “If they are using prepackaged, sealed meals, the inmates believe they are safer,” Gary Friedman, chairman of Jewish Prisoner Services International told the New York Times. Take a look at a sample prison kosher menu from 2016 here — and compare it to the standard prison meal, and the reason for the media uproar becomes evident.

While the Bureau of Prisons provides kosher food, incarcerated Jews can observe holidays using prayerbooks, shofars and services provided by the Lubavitch-run Aleph Institute, and often rely on advocacy provided by Jewish Prisoner Services International.

Israel’s chief rabbi of prison services, Rabbi Yekutiel Vizner, says that Yom Kippur is a particularly important holiday for the incarcerated. “You see the tears,” he told Radio Kol Chai. “The prisoners ask me, ‘Rabbi, does God accept our repentance? We are truly sorry.’”

Shira Feder is a writer. She’s at [email protected] and @shirafeder

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