Report: Incarcerated Former Israeli Prime Minister Olmert Getting in Closer Touch With Judaism
Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is getting in closer touch with his Judaism while in jail, the Hebrew news site Walla reported on Thursday.
According to an anonymous inmate at the minimum-security Maasiyahu Prison, where Olmert has been incarcerated since early February — and where he is to serve a 19-month term after being convicted of bribery and obstruction of justice — he has begun donning tefillin (phylacteries), participating in afternoon and evening prayers and studying Torah and halacha, Jewish law. This, said the inmate, the former premier, Jerusalem mayor, government minister and Knesset member has been doing with real estate developer Meir Rabin, who is a serving a five-year sentence for his part in the same affair, surrounding the Holyland apartment complex in Jerusalem.
A lawyer by profession, Olmert never made a secret of his secularism, though he – like most Israeli politicians – always professed respect for religious Jews.
Sources close to a number of inmates at Maasiyahu told Walla that Olmert resides in a wing of the prison with 10 other inmates, which makes up a minyan – a quorum required for public worship in Judaism.
One of these sources said, “They still have trouble conducting morning prayers as a minyan, because each has his own activities in the morning, other than on Shabbat. But during afternoon and evening prayers, Olmert takes part with the others.”
According to these sources, Olmert is sharing a cell with former Bank Hapoalim Chairman of the Board Danny Dankner (convicted of bribery and money-laundering) and former Jerusalem city engineer Uri Shitrit. Rabin, who became friendly with Olmert, shares a cell with former Jerusalem deputy mayor Eli Simhayoff. “Each one has a job in the wing,” one source told Walla. “Dankner, for example, is the cook.”