Matir Asurim was highlighted in a “Jewish Currents” publication earlier this year. Author Aviva Stahl notes lack of attention to “lived experience of incarcerated Jews…even within the most progressive Jewish communities.” She describes long-standing resources for (some) incarcerated Jews, adding that “queer and trans people or people of color…struggled to find any resources to support their religious life.” The article relates some individual experiences as well as the genesis of Matir Asurim and current initiatives:
…a chaplaincy network that provides resources and support to incarcerated members, a pen pal program, a holiday mailer that includes contributions from incarcerated and non-incarcerated writers, and public education programming for people on the outside to learn more about abolitionism through a Jewish lens. The organization now sends out around 75 holiday mailers to incarcerated people across the US and Canada and has matched nearly 40 pairs of pen pals….Stahl, “Jewish Currents Thursday Newsletter, 2/23/23
Stahl notes Shir Lovett-Graff’s view that “centering people who are incarcerated can change our perception of who is Jewish and who is interested in Judaism,” and cites Jessica Rosenberg suggesting that “these resources haven’t existed in the past in part because most white Jewish communities typically don’t see themselves as connected to the issue of incarceration.”
Full story at Jewish Currents
Image Description: “Thursday Newsletter 2/23/2023” over image of flying bird with “Matir Asurim” in Hebrew characters and “Jewish Care Network for Incarcerated People” in English.
Image courtesy of Matir Asurim, as part of Jewish Currents report.