Some 12 years after writing a Torah Scroll in prison, convicted spy Jonathan Pollard got the chance to fulfill a life-long dream and dedicate it to Joseph's Tomb, located at the outskirts of Nablus in the West Bank.
Pollard visited the site of the tomb on Monday, accompanied by his wife, Esther, and head of the Samaria Regional Council Yossi Dagan.
Pollard had commissioned the writing of the Torah Scroll while sitting in US prison 12 years ago. Even back then, he knew he was going to dedicate it to Joseph's Tomb.
"I feel a personal connection to this place, to Joseph who is buried here and to everything that he went through," Pollard said during the ceremony on Monday, attended by notable rabbis from across the country, all of whom hold a close relationship with the former spy, with some playing an active role in the campaign for his release.
He said that faith in God was what helped him during his most trying times in prison.
"When I was in prison, the officers and the guard would routinely goad me and try to humiliate me by asking me did I think I would ever come home, here [in Israel]; would I ever be with my wife Esther," Pollard said. "And I always answered them the same way: I would ask them, 'Do you believe in God?' and most of them would say yes. And then I would ask, 'do you believe that God can perform miracles?' and they would say 'sure, of course.' Well, here we are."
He noted that the scroll will be used by future generations and that "we must all therefore make the promise... to bring it back permanently to Joseph's Tomb and to see it used every single day in honor and dignity."
Noting what he perceived to be similarities in the stories of Biblical Joseph and Pollard, Dagan said: "Just like the righteous Joseph, our brother Pollard ended up in a pit for standing up for his values... just like Joseph, you're values are leading the Israeli people," he told the former prisoner.
Pollard was recently criticized after giving an interview to Israel Hayom in which he discussed the notion of dual loyalty for American Jews. "If we’re Jews, we will always have dual loyalty,” he said and that “loyalty to Israel and loyalty to your fellow Jews is more important than your life.”
In an open attack on American Jewry, Pollard added that “American Jewry has one major problem – they consider themselves more American than they do Jews.”
Pollard was paroled from his life sentence in 2015. When the terms of his parole were not renewed last year, he flew to Israel, where Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu greeted him at the airport. Sheldon Adelson, the late owner of Israel Hayom, provided a private plane for Pollard's flight.
Ron Kampeas contributed to this report.