Join The Conversation With Mishpacha's Weekly Newsletter

Sunlight through the Bars

Malkie Schulman

Prison life is harsh. Especially if you’re a woman. Especially if you’re Jewish. As we approach the Yom Tov of freedom, we spoke with a group of frum women who have reached out to these inmates, providing a ray of light in a bleak world.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

“One day a few years ago, my sister-in-law schlepped me with her to visit Jewish prisoners in an all-female maximum security prison in upstate New York,” shares Mrs. Chana Rivka Greenfield from Monsey. “From then on, I was hooked.” Like Chana Rivka, most people who perform this special and often neglected mitzvah just stumble into it. They often explain their involvement with something like, “I got a call one day from my rebbetzin asking if I wanted to go, and not being able to refuse her, I went.” But once the women see the impact of their visits — on the prisoners’ lives as well as their own — they become passionate about the cause. “We were told our visits fulfill the mitzvah of matir assurim (releasing the imprisoned),” saysMrs.SussieBrecher, who is part of a devoted group of visitors to this prison. Most of the women are middle-aged, ranging from chassidic to yeshivish, from the area surrounding Monsey,Monroe, and New Square. Sussie recalls her first time at the facility, where only eight of the 850 inmates are known to be Jewish. “I was asked who I was there to visit. I knew nobody so I simply picked the most Jewish-sounding name,” she remembers. “In walked a beautiful, sweet, young Orthodox woman with a scarf on her head. I still remember that day. When I left the prison, it was raining and my tears mingled with the rain.”

To read the rest of this story, please buy this issue of Mishpacha or sign up for a weekly subscription

Share this page with a friend. Fill in the information below, and we'll email your friend a link to this page on your behalf.

Your name
Your email address
You friend's name
Your friend's email address
Please type the characters you see in the image into the box provided.

The Fortunes of War
Rabbi Moshe Grylak We’re still feeling the fallout of the First World War
Some Lessons, But Few Portents
Yonoson Rosenblum What the midterms tell us about 2020
Vote of Confidence
Eyan Kobre Why I tuned in to the liberal radio station
5 out of 10
Rabbi Dovid Bashevkin Top 5 Moments of the Kinus
Day in the Life
Rachel Bachrach Chaim White of KC Kosher Co-op
When Less is More
Rabbi Ron Yitzchok Eisenman How a good edit enhances a manuscript
It’s My Job
Jacob L. Freedman “Will you force me to take meds?”
They’re Still Playing My Song?
Riki Goldstein Yitzy Bald’s Yerav Na
Yisroel Werdyger Can’t Stop Singing
Riki Goldstein Ahrele Samet’s Loi Luni
Double Chords of Hope
Riki Goldstein You never know how far your music can go
Will Dedi Have the Last Laugh?
Dovid N. Golding Dedi and Ding go way back
Battle of the Budge
Faigy Peritzman Using stubbornness to grow in ruchniyus
The Challenging Child
Sarah Chana Radcliffe Strategies for raising the difficult child
Bucking the Trend
Sara Eisemann If I skip sem, will I get a good shidduch?
The Musician: Part 1
D. Himy, M.S. CCC-SLP and Zivia Reischer "If she can't read she'll be handicapped for life!"