The new warden of the Federal Detention Center in Miami met with staff at the Aleph Institute's national headquarters Wednesday.
John T. Rathman came with his new associate warden, Edwin Perez, to The Shul of Bal Harbour in nearby Surfside, Fla., in order to talk with Aleph administrators about programs designed to help former inmates successfully reenter society upon their release.
The Aleph Institute, which helps with the rehabilitation of Jewish prisoners and assists their families, was founded by Chabad-Lubavitch of Bal Harbour, directed by Rabbi Sholom Lipskar.
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Rathman said that he was particularly impressed with Aleph's work to help released prisoners with housing and employment.
"I am very interested in developing these programs for people at our prison who are coming up for release," said the warden.
Rathman also indicated that he would make every effort within Bureau of Prisons policy guidelines and available schedules to support Aleph in trying to expand their educational programs at the prison.
"We are pleased to assist the new warden and associate warden, and appreciate their willingness and interest in working with us to enhance and expand our educational programs," said Aleph's executive director Rabbi Aaron Lipskar, who spoke at length about the organization's three-day "Learning-to-Live" program that brings yeshiva-style Torah learning to six Florida penitentiaries.
Lipskar presented the guests with copies of Aleph's Institutional Handbook of Jewish Practice and Procedure, which was published in 1998 to assist prison officials in establishing procedures that are attentive to the U.S. Constitution's mandate protecting the free exercise of religion. They guests also received Aleph's camouflage-covered book of Psalms, published for Jewish military personnel, its Jewish calendar for the year 5768, and the Chanukah edition of Aleph's bi-monthly National Liberator publication for Jewish prisoners and soldiers.
"I had no idea this was such a large and focused operation," stated Rathman.