Last of Japan Bochurim On His Way to Eretz Yisroel


japan-yaakov-yosefYaakov Yosef ben Raizel Grunwald, who sat in jail in Japan for well over 1,500 days, is on his way to Eretz Yisroel to serve the duration of his sentence. he is expected to arrive this evening at Ben Gurion Airport. 

After four and a half years of trials and tribulations, Klal Yisroel can heave a sigh of relief as their son and brother returns to his homeland.

As previously reported here on, back in May, Yaakov Yosef signed papers formally granting permission to Japanese authorities to transfer him to Israel. This form is a standard one that is given to prisoners who are waiting to be transferred, and it is usually a signal that the Japanese will send their final approval shortly. All permits from both sides were obtained and completed last September, one full year ago, but the Japanese Ministry of Justice did not send their final approval.

The final approval is a letter that states that they give their final consent for the transfer to be expedited and they “request the Israelis to make arrangements with their office for the Israeli police to come to Japan to collect Yaakov Yosef.” The Israelis then agreed to a date with the Japanese and booked flights for their pre-selected wardens to fly out a few days before the agreed day.

“Unimaginable mountains of red tape, that until recently seemed insurmountable, hindered and delayed the prisoner transfer procedure for what seemed like eternity,” an individual involved in the case told

Reb Aron Nezri, the tireless askan from London, stood at the forefront of this painstaking campaign that has now, with great siyata diShamya, come to a close.

Details of the transfer were for obvious reasons kept under wraps.

Yaakov Yosef was brought to the airport and handed over to two Israeli police officers who were waiting by the entrance of the plane together with a batch of documents.

Yaakov Yosef is the third of the three Israeli bochurim who were arrested back in the spring of 2008 for carrying drugs in the false bottom of suitcases. The bochurim had been duped by a member of their own community.

It is not yet clear in which prison Yaakov Yosef will serve the remainder of his sentence.

“As usual, Yaakov Yosef has with great mesirus nefesh continued his shiurei torah diligently, and completed Gemara Maseches Shabbos just yesterday, Tuesday, when local shliach Rabbi Binyamin Edery and his family, came to say farewell to him at the Chiba Prison,” an askon told

Rabbi Edery and his family have devoted remarkable care and attention to the welfare of Yaakov Yosef ever since his detention.

Rabbi Nezri and Reb Meilech Bindinger of Antwerp were on the phone with Yaakov Yosef’s father in Bnei Brak, monitoring in real-time Yaakov Yosef’s release from his jail compound and transfer to the immigration center, where procedures started for his transfer to Eretz Yisroel.

During the conference call while Yaakov Yosef was at immigration, the askonim were alerted that Yaakov Yosef would have  the opportunity to speak to his father for 30 seconds. For the first time in four and a half years, Yakov Yosef held a telephone to his ear, and with fervor said, “Boruch Matir Asurim,” to which his father emotionally answered, “Amen”, while everyone shed tears of gratitude and relief.

Multitudes of concerned Yidden across the globe davened for Yaakov Yosef and never forgot his suffering.  Thousands of our brethren contributed towards the efforts to gain Yaakov Yosef’s release, wrote letters of chizuk to Yaakov Yosef, and accepted upon themselves resolutions in Yaakov Yosef’s merit. They all now rejoice together with his family and friends.

Yaakov Yosef will soon be transferred to an Israeli correctional facility. He and his family will be comforted that he is now close by,  in an environment that respects his religion and speaks his tongue.

At this juncture, all are asked to continue to bear Yaakov Yosef ben Reizel in mind in their tefillos that he should soon be unconditionally free to rejoin his family.

The family of Yaakov Yosef and the askonim involved request that respect should be granted and that they not be contacted for further details or interviews.

{ Israel News Bureau}


  1. BORUCH HASHEM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. This is wonderful news!!!! I promised my family a major party when he is released! I am so relieved for his parents!! Wonderful, I am doing a jig!

  3. ….”Yes we felt your every prayer, & we’re not letting go.. cuz we’re bringing you home”…
    What a beautiful ending to the song!
    Baruch Matir Assurim!
    Halavei to be the same with Rubashkin, Ostreicher, & all our other brethren that need yeshuos!

  4. Hodu L’HaShem Ki Tov!!!

    Someday, in the future, I would like to read a book about all this…including how Yaakov Yosef and his family coped, the reaction of the Japanese officials involved, any effects this has had, if at all, on the Japanese legal system – but we can wait patiently until Yaakov Yosef and his family and the askanim are ready to talk.

    I can finally breathe! Hodu L’HaShem!!

  5. from all the mothers in klal yisroel, to Raizel:, our hearts and thoughts, and prayers continue to be with you-as Hashem helps you to heal