Tens of thousands of people from all across Israel took part in a special prayer session Tuesday evening for the release of Jonathan Pollard, who was sentenced by a US court to life in prison 25 years ago for spying for Israel.
The prayer session was organized by Bnei Akiva and held at more than 80 of the organization’s branches in Israel. The prayer session was attended by members and non-members alike.
Bnei Akiva usually dedicates Tuesdays to routine activity, but after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu officially requested US President Barack Obama to pardon Pollard, the organization’s secretary-general, Rabbi Benny Nechtailer, instructed members to hold special prayer sessions.
Pollard’s wife Esther recently told the Knesset her husband was suffering from multiple ailments that had accumulated over his time in prison.
Rabbi Nechtailer said, “We must continue to call on the prime minister to make every effort to free Pollard. This is not the personal story of Esther and Jonathan; it is the national duty of the entire Israeli nation to save a man who sacrificed himself in the defense of the nation.”
Rabbi Nechtailer said later, “It is hard to comprehend that these kids (Bnei Akiva members) were born more than a decade after Jonathan was imprisoned. We pray for his return home.”