Recently the Rabbinical Council of Victoria (RCV) held a ceremony in the presence of Acting Commissioner Rod Wise and Project Officer Karlie McDermott from Corrections Victoria, to recognize the longstanding work of the Jewish Chaplains providing pastoral care to Jewish prisoners in Victoria.
Acting Commissioner Wise spoke of the special role the chaplains perform in the prison system supporting prisoners who often have trust issues with the guards and prison employees and described this work as critical to the prisoners’ well-being.
Long standing chaplain Mark Kessel spoke of the Jewish principle that the chaplains abide by in not judging the prisoners and explained that often chaplains are challenged by community members who query the chaplains focus on prisoners as opposed to the victims. He explained that often the prisoners have grown up as victims of family violence, poverty, lack of education, mental illness, bad choices and the such and that they too require support and rehabilitation which often guides their choices on their release.
RCV corrections Victoria liaison, Rabbi Moshe Kahn expressed gratitude to Mr Benjamin Koppel, President of the newly formed Jewish Services Victoria and the organization’s 10 volunteer chaplains, for their untiring provision of support and religious items to Jewish prisoners in the state.
Acting Commissioner Rod Wise, Timmy Rubin, Karlie McDermott
Benjamin Koppel, Acting Commissioner Rod Wise, Mark Kessel, Rabbi Philip Heilbrunn OAM President RCV, David Herzog