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Jasper, FL - Jewish Inmates Denied Kosher Meals for Passover

Published on: April 1, 2010 05:44 PM
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Jasper, FL - Winter Springs Rabbi Maurice S. Kaprow has been trying for the past several weeks to assist a Jewish family with a relative in Hamilton Correctional Institution to receive kosher meals during Passover.

The response from the Florida Department of Corrections is that while they offer vegetarian meals to Jewish inmates, but not Kosher.

Here’s what George B. Sapp, Deputy Secretary of Institutiion and Re-entry, wrote Kaprow:

“There are over 100 faiths or religious choices represented within the Department of Corrections’ inmate population. Many of these groups indicate requirements for special dietary accommodations. However, the Department does not grant preferential treatment to inmates of any particular religion. Consequently, no outside group of any kind provides substitute meals to inmates within the Department’s institutions.

“We do provide vegan and no-meat alternative entreee meal plans. These constitute an appropriate religous accomodation of the major faith groups represented in the Department’s inmate population that have dietary requirements as a part of the tenets of their faith.

“It is important that the Department keep its rules uniform in this regard. Providing Inmates who practice the jewish faith withKosher food for Passover as meal substitution for eight days, while providing other religous groups with only vegan or no-meat alternative entree meals would subject the Department to legal challenges under the Equal Protection clause of the United States Constitution. In addition, providing such meals would violate the First Amendment Clause because it would favor one religious group over other religious groups without any legitimate secular reason…”

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Kaprow isn’t buying it.

“First off, there are federal court decisions in a number of other circuits that have required state institutiions to provid Kosher food,” Kaprow contends. “Secondly, the states of New York, Texas, Colorado and many other state institutions provide Kosher food food for their inmates. It is clear it is possible to do. It’s done in other states. It’s done in other locations.”

The vegan and no-meal meals may work for some Jewish inmates, but not for those who are devout, Kaprow said. You don’t know if those veggies meals are cooked in pots and prepared with utensils that were also used to cut and cook meat.

Kaprow said there are pre-prepared, packaged Kosher meals that could be provided to the prisons that wouldn’t cost the Department of Corrections any money or additional preparation time.

Sapp, in his letter to Kaprow, lists several reasons why this wouldn’t work:

“There are security problems associated with inspecting and securing packaged foods — the Department simply does not have the manpower to inspect every package that wold be brought to institutions. Thus, the situation would be ripe for introduction of contraband.

“Inmates will use Kosher items to trad with other Inmates for contraband (or attempt to do so – either ways raising security concerns).

“There could well be retaliation against participating inmates and disruption of the institution in general by non-participating inmates to express their displeasure.

“Other inmates view providing a special diet to a select group of inmates as preferential treatment. This has a negative impact on inmate morale and subsequently the institutional environment and orderly operation of the institution…”

Kaprow concedes that with Passover ending April 6 there is nothing that can be done to change Department of Corrections policy or provide devout Jewish inmates with Kosher food.

But that doesn’t mean the issue is done and over forever.

For this year it’s a done deal. Holiday end on nights of sixth of april.

“We’re talking now in terms of Kosher food on a regular basis and certainly for Passover, which comes every year,” he said. “It’s not right.”


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Read Comments (35)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Apr 01, 2010 at 05:57 PM Broch Says:

I can see the concerns that both side have it'll be interesting to see how they can work it out....But it looks to me as a security issue that could harm the inmates and may cause a riot as well....

2

 Apr 01, 2010 at 06:02 PM MazelKGH Says:

It is not pertinent to his rights but I am just curious - what is this inmate charged with? Does he get other amenities vital to his religion such as a daily daf yomi shiur? Do we have a petition ready to go?

3

 Apr 01, 2010 at 06:05 PM Obama Says:

As we have voted Obama as president for the USA we have removed our privileges as Jews, we begged you not to vote him in , now we have to suffer the consequences.

4

 Apr 01, 2010 at 06:05 PM no mercy Says:

If you don't care about Lo Signov, which is one of the Aseres Hadibros, then don't be frum on the prisons cheshbon and ask for kosher food which is not in the Dibros.

5

 Apr 01, 2010 at 06:06 PM Concerned Says:

It smells a little anti-sametic, doesn't it??
would the same answer be given to a Muslim imam asking for 'halal' meat?

6

 Apr 01, 2010 at 06:07 PM So Says:

Fakers! If they care about the Torah they wouldn't be IN PRISON in the first place! Eat Ham and Shellfish!

7

 Apr 01, 2010 at 06:14 PM Anonymous Says:

We are living in a very troubled , anti semitic period. Just look at the unjustified , harsher sentences being given to orthodox jews the last 10 years , approx. . This doesn't surprise me. The ONLY way SOMETIMES the anti semitic court/ prison system gives in is with tremendous pressure, and shtadlanis.

8

 Apr 01, 2010 at 06:45 PM Anonymous Says:

Ive never heard of "100 other religions" what nonsense is that. 99% of the people are either christina, moslem. jewish or atheist. which makes 4 . and to deny the prisoner passover matzoa is againt our religion and reeks of antisemitism. this story stinks and i hope they get it fixed.

9

 Apr 01, 2010 at 06:52 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #3  
Obama Says:

As we have voted Obama as president for the USA we have removed our privileges as Jews, we begged you not to vote him in , now we have to suffer the consequences.

Yes, because the President of the United States specifically decided on the policy for Hamilton Correctional Insitution in regards to kosher l'pesach food. The President of the United States also dictates policy regarding garbage pickup in Boro Park and bike lanes in Williamsburgh. Oh wait, he probably made sure it rained heavily recently and today decided to bestow a beautiful day for New Yorkers.

11

 Apr 01, 2010 at 07:14 PM OJCB Chaplain in L.A. Says:

If you believe that a prison's primary function is to 'warehouse' criminals then don't give them anything but bread & water. But if you believe that a prison's primary function is to rehabilitate its inmates then you must provide all inmates with their religious requirements at their own specific level of religiosity. Yes they are convicted criminal but they are also fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, and/or someone's child. Some were greedy. Some are mentally disturbed. Some are addicted to drugs, alcohol, gambling, or other addictions which may have led them to commit a crime. But remember, they are all human beings and many are Yidden. Incarceration is the punishment. Sitting in a prison cell away from family and friends and not being able to attend family simchas and not being able to go to family levayas, being treated as sub human almost like a caged animal is bad enough. Must we also torture them?
Do we deny them their basic human rights? Do we deny them their basic religious rights?
For many years B"H we knew no one or very few Yidden in prisons. Today, unfortunately, there are more & more Yidden ending up where they don't belong.

12

 Apr 01, 2010 at 07:21 PM Milhouse Says:

Reply to #6  
So Says:

Fakers! If they care about the Torah they wouldn't be IN PRISON in the first place! Eat Ham and Shellfish!

There are plenty of ways to end in prison without doing any aveiros at all. There are lots of things that are banned by local law but permitted (or even required) by the Torah. There are also false convictions. But even if a prisoner did commit an avera, how does that exempt him from the rest of the mitzvos? מי שאכל שום, וכו׳

13

 Apr 01, 2010 at 07:23 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #4  
no mercy Says:

If you don't care about Lo Signov, which is one of the Aseres Hadibros, then don't be frum on the prisons cheshbon and ask for kosher food which is not in the Dibros.

Who asked your opinion if u don't care about Vedibartoo bum vloi bedvorim bteilim don't comment

14

 Apr 01, 2010 at 07:27 PM Anonymous Says:

as an advocate for Jewish prisoners it is important to note that people make mistakes and end up in prison. Is the Spinka rabbi not entitled to kosher food just because he committed a crime. is a yid not entitled to do tushuva and while in prison not becme a better jew? We have close to ten thousand jews in prison and jails in the US. How many of you do the mitzvah to help them? Of course, it sounds like a lot of you prefer that they be forgotten.

15

 Apr 01, 2010 at 07:56 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #3  
Obama Says:

As we have voted Obama as president for the USA we have removed our privileges as Jews, we begged you not to vote him in , now we have to suffer the consequences.

This has nothing to do with the President. It's a state prison. Get real.

16

 Apr 01, 2010 at 07:58 PM Anonymous Says:

to#4 .and to#6 shame on you! since when is the torah hafkar if someone did something against the toirah he is not aloud to step on it . yisroal af al pi shachota yisroel hi

17

 Apr 01, 2010 at 08:10 PM Anonymous Says:

you must get it fixed so that next year I don't have to read or blog about this issue thank you

18

 Apr 01, 2010 at 08:21 PM Amazed Says:

Reply to #6  
So Says:

Fakers! If they care about the Torah they wouldn't be IN PRISON in the first place! Eat Ham and Shellfish!

This is what is wrong with the community! Narrow minded people such as yourself. How dare you say that about other Yidden who may have gone "off the derech". Its people like you who turn a blind eye when fellow Jews need help. Eat ham and shellfish..PLEASE! So, once you go to prison, thats it for you.. I pray that you or one of your loved ones never goes "off the derech" and goes to prison. But let me ask you this? Will you be sending them a lovely ham and lobster dinner when they go? Just a thought..

19

 Apr 01, 2010 at 08:32 PM Anonymous Says:

Some of your sentences are awkward, ungrammatical and sound very primitive: "while they offer vegetarian meals to Jewish inmates, they do not offer kosher ones" is normal English, not the illiterate way you wrote it at the beginning of your piece. Also, " Holiday end on nights of sixth of April"??? Which ignoramus who just got off the boat from Europe wrote that sentence during his first day in America? You mean "The holiday ends on the night of the sixth of April." Any high school dropout can write better English--the language that you have chosen to write in--than you.

20

 Apr 01, 2010 at 08:41 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #12  
Milhouse Says:

There are plenty of ways to end in prison without doing any aveiros at all. There are lots of things that are banned by local law but permitted (or even required) by the Torah. There are also false convictions. But even if a prisoner did commit an avera, how does that exempt him from the rest of the mitzvos? מי שאכל שום, וכו׳

Yidden are obligated to respect dina d'malchusah. Whether what they did is an avera is irrelevant. If they violate criminal laws they deserve to go to jail and will have to make the best of the difficulties they brought upon themselves.

21

 Apr 01, 2010 at 08:53 PM your doing great Says:

Reply to #4  
no mercy Says:

If you don't care about Lo Signov, which is one of the Aseres Hadibros, then don't be frum on the prisons cheshbon and ask for kosher food which is not in the Dibros.

idont see the conection they did something wrong yes they are human but htat doesnt mean they cant eat kosher

22

 Apr 01, 2010 at 09:02 PM Milhouse Says:

Reply to #20  
Anonymous Says:

Yidden are obligated to respect dina d'malchusah. Whether what they did is an avera is irrelevant. If they violate criminal laws they deserve to go to jail and will have to make the best of the difficulties they brought upon themselves.

Nobody has yet been able to show me where this obligation is to be found.

23

 Apr 01, 2010 at 09:07 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #3  
Obama Says:

As we have voted Obama as president for the USA we have removed our privileges as Jews, we begged you not to vote him in , now we have to suffer the consequences.

So why hasn't he removed the right of prisoners in other states? Obviously, what you wrote is nonsense.

24

 Apr 01, 2010 at 11:00 PM Anonymous Says:

hmm. i doubt they woudl deny an inmate his "last rites": if he was a "christian". why deny a jewish person his rights as a jew. you are trying to make these people more prepared for society after incarceration. not bitter deprived human beings who are deprived of basic religious observance ? i hope they dont harbor a grudge agaisnt society. i am willing to bet that this prison will have to change its customs and all prisons follow suit.

25

 Apr 01, 2010 at 11:26 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #22  
Milhouse Says:

Nobody has yet been able to show me where this obligation is to be found.

maybe it is minhag biyisroel din hoo

26

 Apr 01, 2010 at 11:50 PM Dave Says:

It's an interesting case.

If the article is accurate, the prison is standing on its most defensible position -- the courts show great deference to neutral policies that are designed to prevent outbreaks of violence inside prison. This is why whole categories of printed materials (which would be allowed under the First Ammendment for a non-prisoner) are excluded.

On the other hand, courts have ruled in the past that denial of access to food based on religious beliefs constitutes cruel and unusual punishment.

On yet another hand, the ruling would have to handle someone who decided to join a religion that decided that steak was religiously mandated (and had co-religionists on the outside willing to supply it free of charge).

So, this one is a bit of a muddle.

27

 Apr 02, 2010 at 12:15 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #4  
no mercy Says:

If you don't care about Lo Signov, which is one of the Aseres Hadibros, then don't be frum on the prisons cheshbon and ask for kosher food which is not in the Dibros.

since when are the aseres hadibros more important than any other part of the Torah - there is only One G-d, not a 10 commandments G-d and a rest of the Torah G-d. You sound like an apikores.

Anyway, it is just the opposite of a 1st amendment problem to give them kosher food - it is a 1st amendment problem not to. B"H in most prisons, there is kosher food, including Kosher l'pesach. It is shocking that there are still prisons in the US that don't. Meal Mart makes special meals for prisons that can be accepted for security, etc.

28

 Apr 02, 2010 at 12:27 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #11  
OJCB Chaplain in L.A. Says:

If you believe that a prison's primary function is to 'warehouse' criminals then don't give them anything but bread & water. But if you believe that a prison's primary function is to rehabilitate its inmates then you must provide all inmates with their religious requirements at their own specific level of religiosity. Yes they are convicted criminal but they are also fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, and/or someone's child. Some were greedy. Some are mentally disturbed. Some are addicted to drugs, alcohol, gambling, or other addictions which may have led them to commit a crime. But remember, they are all human beings and many are Yidden. Incarceration is the punishment. Sitting in a prison cell away from family and friends and not being able to attend family simchas and not being able to go to family levayas, being treated as sub human almost like a caged animal is bad enough. Must we also torture them?
Do we deny them their basic human rights? Do we deny them their basic religious rights?
For many years B"H we knew no one or very few Yidden in prisons. Today, unfortunately, there are more & more Yidden ending up where they don't belong.

"For many years B"H we knew no one or very few Yidden in prisons. Today, unfortunately, there are more & more Yidden ending up where they don't belong."

Good point. Perhaps knowing that they will (usually) get kosher food, access to minyanim, Daf Yomi, and non stop defense from furm jews who refuse to admit a fellow frum yid committed a crime is one reason why "unfortunately, there are more & more Yidden ending up where they don't belong." Perhaps if they thought comitting a crime would mean condemnation from the frum community, no kosher food, and no priviliges, as it did in the past, there would be less frum jews in prison!

29

 Apr 02, 2010 at 12:52 AM Milhouse Says:

Reply to #25  
Anonymous Says:

maybe it is minhag biyisroel din hoo

And since when is it a minhag?!

30

 Apr 02, 2010 at 08:05 AM Zvi Says:

I fail to understand the comments of those unsympathetic to the plight of these unfortunte Jews (especially the ones who seem to say that it is OK to force them to eat trayfe or starve).
Regardless of the fact that these are "less than ideal" representatives of B'nai Yisrael, theya re still obligated in Mitzvot and to be insensitive to that fact appears to be nothing less than Achzariyus (Cruelty) -- When we "stand" before HaShem and ask for mercy, pray tell, what will we answer when He asks why we are so unfeeling to Acheinu B'nei Yisrael.
At the same time, there is a very simple way to see if the Corrections Official are sincere. Let them get Vegan / Vegetarian meals that are ALSO under the appropriate Hashgocho. Such an approach appears to answer most or all of the objections that this "sincere" official raised. If he is REALLY concerned about the matters that he mentioned -- then getting meals that are ALSO under Kosher supervision will allow th uniformity that he desires while allowing Jews to eat Kosher (just as Muslims [l'havdil] can eat Kosher and it satisfies their "Halal".

31

 Apr 02, 2010 at 09:15 AM Dr. E Says:

This is because Florida is "out-of-town". The facility in Otisville caters to a more heimishe crowd and the Yidden have more clout. One has a choice of different brands of hand shmura and the food is strictly nisht-Gebrokhts. You can even request that the mishpacha can make the food so that you don't have to "mihsh".

32

 Apr 02, 2010 at 11:24 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #30  
Zvi Says:

I fail to understand the comments of those unsympathetic to the plight of these unfortunte Jews (especially the ones who seem to say that it is OK to force them to eat trayfe or starve).
Regardless of the fact that these are "less than ideal" representatives of B'nai Yisrael, theya re still obligated in Mitzvot and to be insensitive to that fact appears to be nothing less than Achzariyus (Cruelty) -- When we "stand" before HaShem and ask for mercy, pray tell, what will we answer when He asks why we are so unfeeling to Acheinu B'nei Yisrael.
At the same time, there is a very simple way to see if the Corrections Official are sincere. Let them get Vegan / Vegetarian meals that are ALSO under the appropriate Hashgocho. Such an approach appears to answer most or all of the objections that this "sincere" official raised. If he is REALLY concerned about the matters that he mentioned -- then getting meals that are ALSO under Kosher supervision will allow th uniformity that he desires while allowing Jews to eat Kosher (just as Muslims [l'havdil] can eat Kosher and it satisfies their "Halal".

And I fail to understand why a person who never ate kosher in his life, who never went to shul, who never had a bar mitzvah, all of a sudden has a revelation once in prison that he is Jewish and deserves kosher food. Why, if you have dealt with the criminal element you would understand that whatever is done has a reason and in 99.9% of the time it is nefarious.

33

 Apr 02, 2010 at 02:04 PM The Truth Says:

Where does the prisons source their kosher food from? Surely it has a hechsher or is supervised prison kitchen. If so, why are they - the kosher kitchen, providing food for pesach that is chometz? This same kosher kitchen that is producing kosher food for the prison the whole year, should have been kashered and provide the same (more/less) meals as before but kosher for pesach. Its what everyone else does, so why doesnt this kosher food producer do the same?

34

 Apr 02, 2010 at 02:13 PM The Truth Says:

Reply to #6  
So Says:

Fakers! If they care about the Torah they wouldn't be IN PRISON in the first place! Eat Ham and Shellfish!

Obviously, as pure malach who has never done anything wrong in your life, you fulfill all the mitzvos haTorah in their full correct way, both Bein Odom LaMokom and Bein Odom LeChaveiro, please can you tell me how you have tried to help rehabilitate your fellow yidden to A) stop them doing wrong things in the first place and B) to help bring them back on to the straight and narrow path.
Your perfect track record requires you to help society, from which we will all benefit if you can share with us how you do it.

35

 Apr 02, 2010 at 04:21 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #28  
Anonymous Says:

"For many years B"H we knew no one or very few Yidden in prisons. Today, unfortunately, there are more & more Yidden ending up where they don't belong."

Good point. Perhaps knowing that they will (usually) get kosher food, access to minyanim, Daf Yomi, and non stop defense from furm jews who refuse to admit a fellow frum yid committed a crime is one reason why "unfortunately, there are more & more Yidden ending up where they don't belong." Perhaps if they thought comitting a crime would mean condemnation from the frum community, no kosher food, and no priviliges, as it did in the past, there would be less frum jews in prison!

Tayereh yidaleh. Before talking and condemming, are you willing to open your finances for all to see smmall or big. especially the small. you are 100% legit. On your taxes, sales tax, dealing with other financial matters? Your food stamp eligibility is 100% legit. Every single item you buy with your food stamps is eligible for reimb, or do you look a little the other way.

Remember din prutah kedin maioh. One penny stolen is the same as $100 stolen. Just because you don't have the means or the opportunity to be a bigger gonif, doesn't put you on a higher pedestal. This in no way legitimizes theft. Its just saying don't you go around being happy that someone else is in prison.

36

 Apr 02, 2010 at 05:47 PM Anonymous Says:

Next year ,Rabbi Menachem "Mendy" Katz" of Project Aleph should be contacted. It is a Chabad Organization in Florida. They specialize in the rights of Jewish Prisoners and ship Tons of Matzoh , Grape Juice and other kosher foods to Jewish inmates all over the country.
Next year let our Yidden Brothers who are locked up have a
Chag Sameach and Kasher Pesach!

37

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