American actor Sean Penn will be honored by a Jewish advocacy group for his contribution in saving a wrongly imprisoned Jewish man imprisoned in Bolivia.
The group, called This World: The Values Network, will be presenting its 2014 Champion of Jewish Justice to actor Penn at its Second Annual Champions of Jewish Values International Awards Gala on May 18, in New York city.
Jerusalem Post columnist and well known as America's favorite rabbi, Rabbi Shmuly Boteach, mentioned Pen's efforts in a piece entitled, “Sean Penn, My Unlikely Hero.” The piece explained the efforts the actor made to aid in the release of Jacob Ostreicher, an American entrepreneur and Orthodox Jew, who was arrested in Bolivia in 2011 and held in an inhumane prison under brutal conditions.
Although Boteach, the founder of executive director of My World, says he “disagreed vehemently with Penn in the past on a range of issues, he did something recently that blew my mind, and, in the spirit of gratitude, I must acknowledge it.”
According to a statement from the group presenting the award, while overseeing a rice-growing venture, Ostreicher, an American entrepreneur, was arrested by the Bolivia government and held as a suspect in a money laundering investigation in Bolivia’s notoriously squalid Palmasola prison for 18 months. Ostreicher stated that he was beaten, humiliated and had to pay off his jailors. He was never formally charged with a crime and had been under house arrest until Sean Penn traveled to Bolivia and personally appealed to President Evo Morales to have the innocent man freed.
The group says Penn travelled to Bolivia on a “humanitarian operation” and snuck Ostreicher across a hostile border and into a safe location where he reportedly received medical treatment with Penn by his side.
“Penn had no obligation to risk his life for Ostreicher,” said Boteach. “I’d like to think he was moved by the simplest of reasons – to save another human being in need.”
Penn will be personally attending the event to accept his award.
In addition to Sean Penn, Texas Governor Rick Perry and Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard will be attending the dinner, among other public and private sector leaders.
This World: The Values Network is an international organization focusing on bringing the universality of Jewish values and wisdom to the media, the culture, the family, and national affairs. It aims to heal and better society through the dissemination of Jewish light.