For the First Time, Inmates at Israeli Prison Will Be Allowed to Sleep in a Sukkah


sukkah5For the first time in Israel, the Israel Prison Service will allow religious prisoners to sleep in a sukkah during thye upcoming Yom Tov in  response to a request by the human rights organization “B’Tzedek.” Until now, the Israel Prison Service permitted prisoners in the special wing for religious Jews at the Ma’asiyahu Prison to eat in a sukkah erected in the prison courtyard. The prisoners have always been more closely guarded while sitting in the sukkah than they are when confined to their cells, and no prisoner has ever been allowed to sleep in the sukkah.

Last week, the Director-General of the organization “B’Tzedek”, Rabbi Mordechai Green, sent a letter to Brigadier General Dov Lutzky, Deputy Commander of the Israeli Prison Service, claiming that while by law, a prisoner has lost his right of freedom, he must not be denied his basic rights as a human being. Rabbi Green went on to acknowledge that the Prison Service maintains a special wing for religious prisoners, who must truly observe all the mitzvos and follow all the rules of the wing in order to be permitted to serve out their sentences there. That includes attending davening three times a day, and studying Torah on a regular basis. And of course, all the prisoners in the religious wing are provided with kosher l’mehadrin food.

Rabbi Green wrote in his letter, that in addition to the various mitzvos that the Prison Service allows the prisoners to fulfill, “there are other basic mitzvos that every Jew is required to observe, and I would like to make special mention of the mitzvah to sleep in a sukkah. In the Shulchan Aruch, the halacha clearly states that everyone is obligated to sleep in the sukkah. According to most of the poskim, sleeping in the sukkah carries greater weight than eating in the sukkah, since one is permitted to eat a light snack outside of the sukkah, but it is forbidden to take even a short nap outside of the sukkah.”

Rabbi Green concluded his letter by stating that, “The Prison Service, which has never cut corners, or failed to provide the religious prisoners with kosher food, must find a way to meet the need of the religious prisoners to sleep in the sukkah in their wing.”

Rabbi Green does not deny that security issues may arise, but still asked that the religious prisoners be permitted to fulfill the basic and important mitzvah of sleeping in the sukkah.

This week, the Director-General of “B’Tzedek” received a message from the Israel Prison Services that it was decided to allow the prisoners in the special wing for religious men to sleep in the sukkah. The prisoners will have to meet certain conditions that the prison sets, in order to maintain security while fulfilling the mitzvah.

{Etrog News Service/Yair Israel}


  1. This is incredible! I just read the Mishpacha Succos article and tizku l’mitzvos to all involved, may you bring nachas to HKB”H and your families always.