Passover and prison...what's the connection



NewsFixKIAH - CW39

5:00 p.m. CDT, April 5, 2012




If you’re Jewish and serving’s a big deal.

Rabbi Dovid Goldstein with Chabad Outreach-Chai West Houston says, "Ultimately, we all get tested and many of us fail. The difference is these people got caught."

Following Jewish laws isn’t easy. Try that in a prison cell and it’s a whole other story.

Michael Jacobowitz who was convicted of murder says, "When I first came into the system, they took all my religious paraphernalia and told me I wasn’t allowed to have it."

Since then, a lot has changed. The Stringfellow Unit in Rosharon, Texas, caters to the largest group of Jewish inmates in the system, about 25 inmates, of approximately 60 in the state. 

Including a kosher kitchen is no easy task, considering they practically have to burn the place down. A torch is used to clean all the cooking and preparation surfaces.

“There are many rituals that are necessary to be observant in the Jewish faith, and one of the major points is to have a kosher diet," said Rabbi Goldstein.

“To keep kosher at one time was, you’d come through and say I’m pork free,” says Jacobowitz. “They’d give you an extra scoop of beans with your meal...and that was your meal...beans and whatever vegetables you happened to eat."

Do the the time...what do they expect?

Dror Goldberg who was convicted of murder says, "We’re still human beings and many of us want to better ourselves, and one of the best ways to rehabilitate oneself is through religion."

So this small group of inmates sits behind bars and will celebrate Passover, a holiday representing freedom from slavery in ancient Egypt.

"It's not so much about literally walking out of Egypt, it’s about overcoming the obstacles you have in your way,” says Goldberg. “Recognizing what your personal obstacles are, and working towards rectifying that.”

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