I SPENT THIS MORNING IN JAIL WITH TWO RABBIS.
I saw inside portions of the Cook County Jail and some of the 8000 prisoners held there in a massive complex spread over hundreds of acres.
But most importantly, I saw for the first time the work of Rabbi Binyomin Scheiman and his son Chaim of the The HINDA Institute, and witnessed the tenderness and loving kindness of these men.
Together we visited eight prisoners who put on tefilin and recited the Shema and told their stories. Rabbi Scheiman consoled, supported and encouraged them. He told one of them the story of the 42 stops the Jewish People made during our 40 year journey from slavery to independence, and suggested to him that his personal challenges could be one of those stops in his own journey.
Guards and prisoners alike greeted the Rabbi as they saw him in the corridors. They watched with rapt curiosity as the prisoners we visited wrapped themselves in tefillin and donned kippot.
This morning’s experience for me was as unusual and spectacular as it is the norm for the people who work or are incarcerated behind those walls. I understand more than ever the debt we owe to the Hinda Institute.
(reposted from Michael Traison’s Facebook page, 6/14/2017)
Thanks for the good word, Michael!