UPDATE: Alan Gross has been released by Cuba and is currently on his way to the US.
Read below about last week’s efforts by synagogues across the country to pray for Gross’s release.
The roots of the mitzvah of pidyon sh’vuyim, redemption of the imprisoned, can be found in this week’s Torah portion, Vayeshev. The story of Joseph, cast into a pit, and eventually into a dungeon is poignantly told in the Torah text and exquisitely elaborated by Chazal, our sages, and subsequent commentaries to our own very day.
Sadly, the plight of people wrongfully imprisoned is one which of which we are familiar. Throughout the centuries, our community has always rallied and used whatever means available to help free those unjustly held against their will.
In our own time, at this very moment, Alan Gross is being held in Cuba. Alan was charged with espionage and sentenced by the Cuban government five years ago, while serving as an employee of the U.S. Agency for International Development to increase Internet access and connectivity in small communities across Cuba. While in prison, Alan’s health has deteriorated. We are requesting synagogues around the world to devote special attention and tefila this Shabbat for the safe and speedy return of Aba Chonah ben Chava Chana.
The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.