VIN News by Sandy Eller
New York – More than four hundred people turned out last Thursday night for a Volunteers Appreciation Banquet held by L’asurim, a not for profit organization founded approximately three years ago to advocate for the needs of incarcerated Jews in addition to providing prisoners and their families with moral support.
L’asurim is staffed completely by volunteers and the dinner provided an opportunity for those volunteers, who hail from all across the area including Brooklyn, Lakewood, Monroe and New Square, to meet for the first time in addition to raising awareness for the organization.
Among the speakers at the dinner, held at The Renaissance Ballroom in Borough Park, were Rabbi Mendel Katz of Florida’s Aleph Institute, well known community activist Zvi Gluck, Rockland County legislator-elect Rabbi Aron Wieder, deputy mayor of New Square, Rabbi Israel Spitzer, and Williamsburg philanthropist Mr. Yidel Lichtenstein, and several former inmates who praised the L’asurim volunteers for their efforts.
“The goal is to keep people out of prison, both by educating them about crime prevention and by helping people who were released from prison to find their place in society so that they don’t find themselves in jail again,” said L’asruim volunteer, Chaim Hollander, whose brother, Israel Hollander runs the organization.
In fact, Chaim Hollander, who was imprisoned for seven years after being convicted of a white collar crime, knows firsthand the importance of moral support for prisoners and their families.
“We need to keep prisoners connected while they are incarcerated,” Hollander told VIN News. “We try to set them up with visitors, pen pals, make sure their religious rights and needs are met and then upon their release, we need to help them acclimate so that they can become productive members of society.”
Hollander stressed that L’asurim was founded to provide assistance to prisoners and their families and is careful never to pass judgment on anyone.
“You feel for these people when you visit them,” said singer Srully Williger who has both sung in prisons and made lengthy trips to visit the incarcerated. “No matter what someone did, they are still a yid, still a person, and they need to know that there are people on the outside who care and are willing to take the time to offer their support.”
L’Asurim hopes that the dinner will raise awareness for their organization which, until now, has endeavored to stay out of the limelight.
“I am always hearing from inmates that the letters that come to them from L’asurim volunteers and the visits that they get, really help them get through their tough times, and helps them with the rehabilitation process,” said Zvi Gluck. “I truly hope that more people get involved in such a worthy cause.”
Shloime Taussig sings at L’asurim Appreciation Dinner
Srully Williger sings at at L’asurim Appreciation Dinner
Michoel Streicher sings at L’asurim Appreciation Dinner