Jew by Choice
Steven Hayes is on death row in a Connecticut penitentiary for murder and rape. Recently, he filed a lawsuit against the Constitution State for violating his First Amendment rights. It seems that Steven Hayes is an Orthodox Jew, or at least claims to be and maintains that it is obligation of the state to provide him with kosher meals. Whether or not the courts will decide in Mr. Hayes’ favor, I neither know nor care. That is an entirely legal issue and I profess to have no knowledge whatsoever, when it comes to convict’s rights and concomitantly the responsibility as well as obligation on the part of the penal system. At the very least, Mr. Hayes may wish to reach out to the Aleph Institute based in Surfside Florida, which provides Jewish inmates with support and kosher food, if in fact they are able to do so.
From a purely moral and ethical standpoint, Mr. Hayes’ lawsuit causes me great consternation. Many of my generation were raised with parents admonishing us to be model citizens, lest we wind up in jail, where we would be fed bread and water. Had our parents possessed the same hubris as Mr. Hayes, they might have at the very least told us, that in jail we could expect little more than challah and water. Better yet, those of us who had grandparents or relatives or friends with Yiddish accents as well as Yiddish syntax and Yiddish thought process, can in all likelihood still hear them or imagine them say:
“Kosher food, I should give him? Poison (or worse) I’ll give him.”
If Mr. Hayes is in fact an Orthodox Jew, one would do well to wonder why he has yet to petition the State of Connecticut that he be executed in one of the four methods discussed in the Talmud. These four methods are actually mentioned in our Yom Kippur prayers: stoning, burning, beheading and strangulation (before you jump to any conclusions or make any comparisons, please see me, so that I can explain them to you. They are not what you think.)
However sincere Mr. Hayes appears to be in his Jewish belief as well as his kosher request, there are more than a few of our people who cannot help but wonder where Mr. Hayes’ Judaism was when he committed rape and carried out murder. He has found Judaism, they will exclaim!
Some will even go so far as to say, that because of Mr. Hayes’ past as well as his current lawsuit, he has given entirely new meaning to the term Jew by Choice. All of a sudden, Steven Hayes wishes to uphold Jewish law. Too bad he didn’t uphold Jewish law several years earlier! One of his victims would in all likelihood still be alive today, while the other would not have to deal with the trauma of being a rape victim. A teacher of mine from Rabbinical School who died less than two weeks ago, once told us that he spent much of his time in the army separating the beans from the pork. If that was kosher enough for a Rabbi, perhaps Steven Hayes might want to give it a try.