JPAF, HINDA, AND RABBI BINYOMIN SCHEIMAN
Chaplain Rabbi Binyomin Scheiman of the Jewish Prisoners Assistance Foundation has been doing his work quietly and effectively for the past twenty years. Criss-crossing the state in a rented automobile, visiting prisoners, counseling families, and influencing prisoners to think deeply about the meaning of their lives and their ability to become better people — Rabbi Scheiman and his team visit EVERY Jewish prisoner in the State of Illinois on a monthly basis. He checks in with ex-prisoners before every major holiday. He continually inspires them to grow and transform. His belief in the power of personal transformation inspires many to make changes in their lives for the better, some small, some in a major way. JPAF: the Jewish Prisoners Assistance Foundation is now HINDA Institute, in honor and memory of Rabbi Scheiman’s late wife Hindy, a”h.
COVERING THE STATE
The Scheiman sons: Rabbi Schneur, Rabbi Mendel, and Rabbi Chaim, were brought up in this family dedicated to this mission, and as adults, they have responded with the same dedication and enthusiasm, and the same essential commitment to the welfare of every Jewish person, wherever he or she might be found. Together with their wives and families, they reach out to families, implement holiday programs, offer Jewish study opportunities, solve problems whenever they can, and, like the senior Rabbi Scheiman, visit the far-flung correctional institutions across the state and county.
VOLUNTEERS AND SUPPORTERS
JPAF also relies on the participation of everyday people who want to make a difference. Both men and women set aside a day a month to visit their fellow Jews in a correctional facility near them, bringing matzos for Passover, siddurim and books, and forming a healthy link with a community representing strong Jewish values. For some of the inmates, this may be the first contact they have had with the organized Jewish community. But in many cases, it is not the last.
Jewish affiliation and education is a very good way to keep people doing the right thing. “People with a strong Jewish education are very unlikely to need our services,” Rabbi Scheiman says. “We share the Jewish way of thinking with our prisoners as a way to strengthen them for their time in prison and for the future.”