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Jailhouse Jews

by: Leslie Bunder - Last updated: 2007-04-12

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A European organisation which aims to help and protect the rights of Jews in prison is to organise a conference next month to discuss the problems Jewish inmates face.

According to the Brussels-based European Aleph Institute, which is affiliated to the US Aleph Institute, there are between 3,500 and 5,000 Jews in jail across Europe and the group says religious support can help them in their quest to become better citizens.

"Supplying prisoners with religious goods and items such as siddurim, kosher food, scriptures, talletim and tefillin helps them gain a higher level of self-awareness and understanding of the implications of their actions," Aleph director Rabbi Levy Kanelsky told European Jewish Press.

Kanelsky also revealed that his group's work helps Jews in jail understand why they go there and what they can do to make sure it doesn't happen again.  "We're giving them the tools to return to an honest life within the Jewish community," he says.

Among those attending the conference which takes place on May 1 and May 2, is Israel’s Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger.