Monday, April 9, 2007

Observing Passover not easy for inmates

Brianna Bailey of the Norman Transcript (Oklahoma) writes about the challenges that Messianic and Orthodox jews face in celebrating Passover at Joseph Harp Correctional Center:

How do you celebrate freedom when you aren’t free? How do you open the door for Elijah the Prophet when the door is made of bars and you don’t have the key?“We do it symbolically,” said Jess Beard, who discovered Messianic Judaism while incarcerated.Others view Passover as a time of hope and optimism for the future. “Next year in Jerusalem, Next year in Jerusalem,” said inmate Delbert Lynch, echoing the last words recited each year at the Passover Seder.
Orthodox Jews have some special challenges:
David Smith wears a kippah and a silver Star of David necklace with his blue prison shirt. His inmate number is printed on a white piece of tape on his shirt. His faith has become a way for him to gain a family in prison, he said. There are six to 10 practicing Orthodox Jews at Joseph Harp, he said.

"It’s good being able to share something with others and be a part of a community here," Smith said.

Preparing for Passover was no easy task in prison. Observant Jews may not eat or possess any leavened bread or “Chametz” during Passover week, commemorating the flat bread the Hebrews ate when they fled Egypt. Orthodox Jews must clean their houses of all leavened bread before Passover.

"It’s hard when my roommate brings in Doritos and Ramen noodles," Smith said. "But I am only responsible for the space that is my own."

Inmates think of their “house” as their half of the cell. Such distinctions make it possible for Smith and other Orthodox Jewish inmates at Joseph Harp to remain observant in their own way.
Hat tip to Corrections Connection.

No comments: