by Ralph B; prisoner; Copyright© 1999 All rights reserved. The following writing may not be republished or redistributed, in whole or in part, in any way including electronically, without the prior written consent of the author.
Imagine, if you will, being in a place where you are totally unable to keep kosher; where you are unable to participate in any service and observance except what you can do on your own, by yourself; no Shabbos candles, no Shacharit, no Minchah, no Maariv; where outward expressions of your faith, such as wearing a yarmulke or a shield of David are restricted and open you up not only to verbal abuse and harassment, but also to physical assault; where even the admission that you are a Jew puts you in danger; where you face open anti-Semitism everyday; and where Hitler is glorified. Where might such a place be? If you read the mainstream press, such a place only exists in memory. If you follow the Jewish press, you may be thinking of areas under the control of the Palestine Arabs. While both of those are, to an extent, correct, they aren't the place to which I'm referring. Where then you ask - and I'm willing to bet that nowhere in your thoughts have you even imagined that this place could be in the United States. But, yes, it is in the United States, and not in some rural backwater in the Northwest, but right here in Georgia. At this time, there are [a number of} Jews who must live with this constantly. Not only is this treatment sanctioned by the State of Georgia; it is actually imposed by the State. Where is this place? This is the challenge. It is in the prison camps of Georgia!
This is a challenge because first, [the majority of Jews] don't want to associate with these outcasts, these criminals; and second, we don't want to admit and accept that there are Jews who end up in such circumstances. We forget to stop and think that these are our fellow Jews, fellow humans, no matter what they have done. Most, if not all, came from assimilated families and have been cut off from their faith and heritage. I know personally about this because I am one of them. However, there is a light in this darkness in Georgia, and that light is Jane Davis and HOPE-HOWSE.
HOPE-HOWSE and Jane Davis are very special to me. Jane is a vibrant, powerful, spiritual soul who brings her presence into the prison. She is a Jewish influence who says, "You are not alone - I am here" to the prisoner, and also, "He is not alone - I am here" to the prisoner's keepers. Her presence provides protection and strength as I strive to do Teshuva and be Torah-observant.
Of course, not everyone can do what Jane does. It is a challenge she has undertaken to spread Yiddishkeit even to the darkest corners. You may not be able to do all she does, but you can join with her and HOPE-HOWSE; you can help provide her with the support and resources she needs. So many things are needed, books, tapes, yarmulkes, etc., and, of course, money. You can be an important part of her work and help save lives. Please contact her and see what you can do.