Israeli “Democracy”: Wife Tells Matzav About Husband’s Absurd Arrest for Stealing… Bones

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asra-kadishaBe aware: Granting a reburial for ancient bones is considered “stealing” in Israel. Last week Tuesday, Rabbi Chizkiya Kalmanowitz, an askon with Asra Kadisha, was arrested on charges of trespassing and stealing bones. When it was proven that on the day when the purported “crime” took place Rabbi Kalmanowitz happened to be overseas – on one of his frequent trips to various countries where, instead of “stealing,” his mission is to preserve cemeteries and ensure proper burials – the Israeli court allowed the prosecution to change the date in order to extend his remand.

Here is the account of Mrs. Hinda Kalmanowitz, an American émigré, describing to her husband’s arrest, the trauma the family went through, and the money and valuables stole from them without any explanation:

Four thirty a.m. Tuesday: There’s knocking on my door. I roll over, assuming I was dreaming, and try to fall back asleep. But the knocking persists loud and harsh. I wonder if one of my neighbors has an emergency.

The children come running into my room in a panic. I wake up my husband. He gets up and starts dressing. I tell the children to go back to bed. Obviously someone needs emergency assistance.

The pounding continues.

“It’s the police!” the children whisper in terror.

“What would make them think so?” I wonder.

“They said so and are threatening to break our door down,” my daughter tells me through teeth chattering almost as loud as the knocking.

I start towards the door, telling my children to go back to bed and that all is well. The children return to their beds, their little bodies trembling visibly.

I look through the peep hole and ask for ID. I can make out something being flashed at me. I can’t really see anything in the dark, but I’m a trusting person, so I open the door to find four men behind it. They enter and ask if we have anything illegal in the house. I smile and shake my head.

How ridiculous, I think to myself, but okay. We have nothing to hide.

I call a neighbor as an additional witness and the search begins. I go about my business trying to get my housework done. I tell the children who are still trembling that there is nothing to worry about. ‘They are just searching the house and they will be out soon,” I tell them.

I can still hear their teeth chattering loudly. “Will they take our father away?” they want to know.

“Of course not,” I assure them. “There is nothing illegal in this house.”

Then the officers come across my camera. They want to know who it belongs to. I tell them it’s mine, and they inform me that they will be taking it.

“What’s illegal about a camera?” I wonder, but I say nothing. They reach my husband’s office and they begin to fill bags and boxes of cameras, computers, disks – the works. Now, I’m really confused. “Can I know what we are being accused of?” it dawns on me to ask.

“Sure,” they tell me, withdrawing an arrest warrant. “Trespassing and vandalizing an antiquities site.”

“What?” I’m in shock. “For that you have a search and seizure warrant? What’s the connection?”

The officers look at each other and shrug. They are just doing their job.

What a country!

Now they tell my husband to empty his pockets. He does so. There is money there. They begin to count it and put it together with another sum that they found in my bedroom. They’ll be taking it all.

Now I’m livid. “How can you justify confiscating all of my money on trespassing charges?”

I won’t take this sitting down. It is beginning to dawn on me that they will take my husband away. With all of our money.

The house is empty. I had been planning to go shopping later today.

“You will not do this to me,” I say. “I have a family to feed.”

They see my panic. One calls headquarters and then hands me four hundred NIS. I laugh at the share ludicrousness of the situation.

The children gather at the door with pale faces and  eyes. These folks are jesting. What can I buy a family of ten with four hundred shekels? The money they are taking would’ve been enough for us to live on frugally for the next few weeks.

I insist on receiving my money back.

“You can’t take my money because my husband allegedly trespassed,” I tell them.

Another phone call to headquarters and I am graciously granted another six hundred shekels of my money.

The raised voices set my children trembling again.

“Tell us they will not take our father away,” the say.

I cannot meet their eyes. I cannot reassure them.

Their father is taken away, along with boxes of our belongings. And our money. I spend the next couple of hours soothing my children, trying to reassure them.

While my husband, Chizkiya, is a very private person, he represents Asra Kadisha, a world-renowned organization dedicated to saving Jewish burial sites throughout the world. It is backed and supported by great rabbonim from all over the world, and all spectrums of Orthodox Judaism. Which is why I had to smile when I read Mr. Twersky’s words referring to this organization as being “a fringe group.” He must have been referring to the fringed garments all of its members wear.

As the right-hand man of the head of the Asra Kadisha, my husband travels the world with selfless devotion to fulfill its sacred mission. He is well received and respected in government offices in the United States and in many European countries.

Following my husband’s arrest, I informed some of his US contacts what had transpired. All of them expressed surprise at the sequence of events and requested that I keep them informed of things as they developed.

At the hearing that morning, the prosecution demanded that Chizkiya be remanded in custody for three more days. The charges were based on “secret documents” that even his lawyer wasn’t privy to. He was allegedly seen trespassing and vandalizing an antiquities site on the night of July 25th. The problem with this accusation is that Chizkiya was in Europe on the25th of July.

I copied the page of his passport that was stamped with an exit stamp on the 23rd of July as well as an entrance stamp on the 26th and faxed it to the lawyer.

I heaved a sigh of relief. But the saga was far from over.

The court demanded the actual passport. Quickly, I sent it off with a messenger. But when that was presented to the court, the prosecution shamelessly changed the date of the alleged crime to the night of the 26th. Although no evidence was presented to the court, Chizkiya was remanded in custody for another three days with no contact to the outside world. I was not allowed to send him anything, even though I clearly stated that he has a very sensitive digestive system and would probably be unable to eat the standard jail fare.

Of course, I apprised many of Chizkiya’s contacts in the US government of these developments. They all expressed shock, bordering on disbelief, at what they heard. Many of them, including the US ambassador to Israel, wanted to understand how it was possible that a first-time “offender,” arrested on charges of a misdemeanor, was being treated as some dangerous political prisoner. Not to mention that he is a man admired worldwide for the great things that he has accomplished for the Jewish heritage.

My husband returned home yesterday to five more days of house arrest. To date, no evidence has been presented to back up the allegations, and none of our possessions or money have been returned to us.

{ Israel News Bureau}


  1. Israel’s legal system is fundamentally Communist, especially in relation to land. Any land not clearly owned by someone prior to the establishment of the State belongs to the State and even private land does not entirely belong to the owner. The State asserts ownership to anything under the land and control of what happens over the land. That means that if you own land in Israel and you discover oil or buried treasure, it belongs to the State. Just the other day in the case of Migron, the State went one step further and arbitrarily annulled the legal ownership of land. This makes Israel fully a Communist country. The State now owns all land and land rights and there is no longer the right to private property in Israel. So of course if you take bones out of land in Israel, you are stealing form the State. No doubt in the near future there will be arrest for removing sand from the beaches and play areas.

  2. I’ve met R’ Chizkiya numerous times and was amazed at the work he does. He’s a very fine person and is Moser Nefesh to preserve the Kavod Hameis that the Medina time and again are “moser nefesh” to destroy.
    ???? ?’ ??????!!!!
    PS Israel is notorious for desecrating graves, while the most anti-semetic third world countries would never have the audacity to do!!!!!!!!!

  3. Wow! Did anyone ever read Puah Steiner’s (Forever My Jerusalem) account of how the British went thru their home and confiscated whatever they wanted. Same here – not sure how the Zionists can complain about the British when they do the same thing!


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