Update On Rabbi Eli Hecht, Sitting in Spanish Prison


eli-hechtA radio host from Radio Kol Rega, a regional radio program in northern Israel, has been following the unfortunate story of Rabbi Eliyahu Hecht. Last week he interviewed Rabbi Yehuda Dunin, a representative of the committee that was established to secure Hecht’s freedom from the Spanish jail where he is currently being held.

Ami Cabri is a longtime host of the large radio station, and has made it his duty to follow the story of the rabbi who has denied the allegations leveled against him since the day he was arrested in a Spanish airport three months ago.

Returning from Spain, on a visit to Rabbi Hecht, Rabbi Yehuda Dunin joined Cabri to be interviewed, revealing troubling facts with regard to the case.

According to his reports, Spain is in no hurry to proceed. They see no reason why they shouldn’t leave his case on the side for another six months.


Ami Cabri: We do not let go, we continue to follow the story of RabbI Eliyahu Hecht, who is being held under unimpressive conditions, certainly unsuitable for a religious Jew. I would like to say hello and good afternoon to Rabbi Yehuda Dunin.

Rabbi Dunin: Good afternoon.

Ami Cabri: Can you tell me a little of his plight?

Rabbi Dunin: I was with him on Sunday, I paid him a visit. His situation is obviously not good, not good at all. He has been there for three months, and in Spain they seem in no hurry to go anywhere; from their perspective they would have no problem if in six months they begin to treat his case. And we, as a team, we took on a good lawyer who tried… Firstly, to have them pay him some attention. The policy there is to lock someone up for up to a year before even beginning to handle his case.

Ami Cabri: What despair!

Rabbi Dunin: With our effort, we thank G-d were able to have his case begin legal proceedings. Things have began to move thank G-d.

Ami Cabri: How does he manage with keeping a Kosher diet and praying?

Rabbi Dunin: Firstly, with G-d’s kindness, the Jewish community there is really going above and beyond; they have many connections and have been able to take care of some issues. For them, great progress has been made, with the permission given to pray. We hope that with this, a general policy will be made with regard to the praying of all Jews in prison… Until now, it has been unheard of. The other incarcerated Jews and Israelis have never heard of the concept. They simply do not daven, for a few years!

So, we thank G-d that everyday they give Eli the time to pray in a separate room.

The Kosher food problem is beginning to sort itself out. He gets from the Jewish community… The jail sends a courier to the town to purchase from the Kosher store. This is obviously not enough, this is not what we were fighting for, but at least he gets some tuna, bread and cake. Before this, Eli survived on cucumbers and apples.

Ami Cabri: How is his mental state?

Rabbi Dunin: His mental state… Those who know him, Eli is a strong person, happy natured, who accepts suffering. I can tell you that when I saw him, I was… I was torn. He was broken, completely broken. He simply cannot find himself there.

There’s a completely un-Jewish atmosphere in the place; the whole life there is television. You can’t imagine what he goes through over there.

We really plead with every Jew to pray on his behalf… Rachamim Eliyahu ben Rachel. Pray that he should get out of there as soon as possible. Every day there he suffers terribly.

Ami Cabri: Did you tell him anything about the major efforts of people in his behalf?

Rabbi Dunin: He receives tens of letters daily. These letters literally keep him alive. He gets letters of encouragement, being the only communication people have with him. One of the problems there is that there is no way with which to call him. Even the attorney has problems getting in touch with him. They allow him to talk through the glass window.

We are hopefully in the midst of organizing this.

Ami Cabri: We will not relent. We will continue to monitor the progress. We hope that our curiosity motivates those who need to be, to demonstrate what is being done here, and to free him, to get him out of there.

Rabbi Dunin: G-d willing.

Ami Cabri: It really breaks my heart. Thank you so much Rabbi Yehuda Dunin.

Rabbi Dunin: Great. We really want everyone to pray in his behalf, and not to give up until we see him back with us, G-d willing.

Ami Cabri: I thank you very much for this conversation.

Rabbi Dunin: May we hear good news.

{By David Yisraeli, Chabad Info/Matzav.com}


  1. R’Hecht is 57, has elderly parents living in the United States, and his six children are not yet married.

    For those of you who are annoyed that he took the suitcase when we are all so smart and would never do such a thing, consider the following:

    He traveled 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 Hecht’s scheduled departure to his home in Israel, 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 Hecht was wary, being 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.

    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 last Wednesday, he was stopped and his suitcase was checked. He was stunned to discover a large quantity of cocaine hidden within its folds and was arrested.

    It’s easy to say he was a fool for taking it but if YOU were hosted by the man and received a donation for your cause and was helped by him and then he started berating you – how dare you suspect him and how dare you refuse to return a favor after staying under his roof and eating from his table, you would find it extremely hard to appear like an ingrate and say no. Have rachmanus!

  2. Thank you YH for so clearly explaining his defense. Maybe you should be hired to write for matzav. The whole story now makes much more sense than it ever did.

  3. Thanks so much, YH, for explaining the important details. This man is innocent.

    Is zeev@crombie.com the only/the best way to contact Rabbi Hecht?

    Thank you, Matzav for printing this update. I had been wondering what was going on with this terrible situation. May Rabbi Hecht merit an immediate yeshuah.

  4. I am a friend of the rabbi I was with him in Spain we talked and broke bread my name is stephen the rabbi will remember me please tell him hello and to contact me glad to hear he is free


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