No Homecoming On Thanksgiving For Jewish Prisoners

Notes from Producer/Director, Rhonda Moskowitz

For many of us, Thanksgiving is a holiday of reconnecting with family and coming home. However, there is a segment of our nation’s Jews for whom there will be no Thanksgiving homecoming. Thousands of our nation’s Jews will spend Thanksgiving inside prisons, profoundly isolated and devoid of any genuine human connection. 

Some of the people in my documentary film-in-progress, TESHUVA (RETURN), will spend Thanksgiving alone in their cells. Drug addiction is what caused  them to commit the crimes for which they are being punished.  Not only will they suffer on Thanksgiving Day, but their family members will suffer. There will be empty place settings at the Thanksgiving tables of their families, as well as feelings of shame.

So when you give thanks, thank G-d you’re at a Thanksgiving feast with your loved ones, and not sitting alone in a cold, hard cell. Be thankful you haven’t gone so far astray that you land in prison. Or if you have made grave mistakes, be thankful you escaped such a harsh punishment.

Be charitable in your thinking. Remember that penitentiary comes from the word penitence. Jewish prisoners are our brothers. We are our brothers keeper. Jews who have committed crimes are human beings. Every Jewish soul is capable of transformation and redemption. Every one.

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2 Responses to “No Homecoming On Thanksgiving For Jewish Prisoners”

  1. saralee Says:

    It is totally awesome that you are addressing this reality. The holiday season is a time of great contrast for so many, and heartache and loneliness are there beneath the surface. Thank you for your work.

  2. Susan Rifkin Says:

    Thank you for shedding light on this mostly forgotten issue. Having spent last Thanksgiving with my son incarcerated 2000 miles away, I feel the pain of both the inmates and their families. This year, we are grateful for his freedom, but continue to pray for those who are still behind bars.

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