Celebration In Spain: Rabbi Eli Hecht Found Not Guilty


eliyahu-hechtAfter languishing for months in a Madrid jail on drug-trafficking charges, on Friday, the court in Madrid, Spain, released the final verdict regarding Rabbi Eli Hecht, stating that he is not guilty of the crimes attributed to him after he was caught transporting drugs without his knowledge.

Reb Eli is expected to be back home in Tzefas within five days.

Back in April, after languishing for months in a Madrid jail, Rabbi Hecht was released to house arrest. Four prior attempts to have him released on bail had been rejected.

Rabbi Hecht was arrested upon arrival at Madrid’s airport after narcotics were found in the lining of a suitcase he was transporting for his host in Costa Rica, his place of departure. His jail stay was far from pleasant one, and he endured many hardships before his house arrest, in part brought about by the Spaniards’ unfamiliarity with his religious needs.

Rabbi hecht was first arrested back on Dec. 1, 2010. The 57-year-old father of seven had continually maintained that his host in Costa Rica had duped him into taking a suitcase with drugs hidden inside, and, boruch Hashem, the court issued its acquittal on Erev Shabbos.

RabbI Hecht has been working for the Tzefas soup kitchen run by Kolel Chabad, for the past 10 years.

“He is a very good-hearted person whose whole life is devoted to helping people,” Rabbi Crombie, the director of the kitchen, told Matzav.com last year.”He never refuses to help people. He goes fundraising all the way around the world to help feed poor people.”

Rabbi Hecht has elderly parents living in the United States and all his children are unmarried.

He had travelled to Costa Rica on a weeklong fundraising mission. Arriving in San Jose, the capital of the Central American republic, he spent most of his time at the shul where he met a stranger – a Jewish man whom members of the community said was a regular who came daily to shul and was a shomer Shabbos.

The man gave Hecht a hefty donation and offered him lodging in his home for the duration of his stay. He also took him around to donors to help him gather donations for the soup kitchen, called Eishel Binyamin.

Before Rabbi Hecht’s scheduled departure to his home in Eretz Yisroel, which included a short stopover in Madrid, his host asked him if he could take a suitcase for delivery to a woman in Madrid.

Although Rabbi Hecht was slightly suspicious of the suitcase’s contents, his host calmed him down.

“You have nothing to worry about,” he said, telling him to open the valise and check out what was in it.

Rabbi Hecht opened the suitcase, saw some women’s clothes strewn in it and agreed to take it. He was to go to the main shul in Madrid where a woman would pick it up, he was told.

Arriving at Madrid’s Barajas International Airport on a Wednesday, he apparently was stopped and his suitcase was checked. He was stunned to discover “a large quantity” of cocaine hidden within its folds and was arrested.

Rabbi Hecht was jailed and then refused access to his tefillin or kosher food.

The powerful crime families in Spain have made the country the European drug capital, so much that the air in some of its cities actually has traces of the substances in it. This has led in the past to periodic crackdowns that have only temporary successes.

Yidden around the globe davened for Eliyahu Rachamim ben Rachel as they were updated by Matzav.com and other media outlets regarding the case.

Bechasdei Hashem, Rabbi Hecht was found innocent and will soon be reunited with his mishpacha.

{Shmiel Gellman-Matzav.com/Yair Alpert-Matzav.com Israel}


  1. Rabbi Hecht’s case is one more example why one should never take luggage from someone else along on an airplane flight.

    Klal Yisroel and the bochurim in Japan have suffered enough already that this lesson should be clear to anyone with a little sechel.