Orthodox Jewish Chaplaincy Board Behind Bars for Succos


Orthodox Jewish Chaplaincy Board (OJCB) Chaplains brought Lulovim & Esrogim to Jewish Inmates in Los Angeles County Jails during Chol Hamoed Succos. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Office of Religious & Volunteer Services, under the leadership of Sgt. Juan Martinez was instrumental in allowing the OJCB to leave Lulovim & Esrogim with many of the Californian inmates who understand and know how to handle them.

Orthodox Jewish Chaplaincy Board

L-R LASD Custody Assistant Ricardo Pedroza, Chaplain Yankee Raichik, L.A. City Neighborhood Council Member Michoel Bloom, Shay Abishoor, OJCB Director/Senior Chaplain Howard Winkler, Sgt. Juan Martinez, Elchonon Klafter, Jewish/Persian Community Leader Chaplain Dara Abaei and Custody Assistant John Arreola

Many of the nearly one hundred Inmates who consider themselves Jewish are visited by OJCB Chaplains throughout the year. The chaplains give these prisoners chizuk and assist them with their religious and spiritual needs despite the difficult circumstances and limited opportunities available to them.

Carl ToerBijins, a former deputy warden in the Arizona Department of Corrections, estimates that the number of Jews is very small, perhaps 12,000 to 15,000 nationally which is less than 1% of the total prison population. Despite the work of the OJCB, life for inmates is hard and ToerBijins notes, “Being Jewish has no advantage.” Sometimes Prison staff are confused by the needs of Jewish prisoners and unclear as to the identity of Jews as opposed to other denominations including Messianic Jews and so forth.