In Times Of Crisis

Thank you for publishing the important article about the often-neglected story of Jews who are incarcerated in U.S. prisons (“Judaism Behind Bars,” Oct. 25). If I may add to the conversation, I wish to highlight a major issue that seems to have been overlooked in the article. The issue of proselytizing in the prison setting is one that we at Jews for Judaism have increasingly been made aware of over the years through letters written to us by Jewish prisoners. Since 1983, as the Jewish community’s leading response to the multimillion-dollar campaigns of deceptive Christian proselytizing waged to specifically target Jews for conversion, we have received hundreds of letters from Jewish prisoners requesting help in dealing with the relentless proselytizing efforts that inmates are being confronted with.

In a recent letter, the prisoner, who also leads a Jewish study group, expressed: “The hardest thing for me to do is to be forced to defend Judaism against the attacks of these Christian proselytizers.” Our response to these Jewish prisoners has always been to empower them with knowledge and to provide them with useful educational materials, especially our well-known “The Jewish Response to Missionaries: Counter-Missionary Handbook.” Knowing that people often turn to religion in times of crisis, it is critical for the Jewish community to understand that this low point in one’s life is the precise moment that spiritual predators seek to take advantage of. Being that prisoners are a true “captive audience,” we must not forget their extreme vulnerability to missionaries in prison and [we must not] allow their Jewish souls to be overtaken along with their physical freedom.

Ruth Guggenheim
Executive Director
Jews for Judaism
Baltimore

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