Jerusalem – A Charedi man released from prison eight months after being arrested for his part in an anti-draft protest in Israel received a hero’s welcome Thursday evening in Meah Shearim, with thousands turning out to celebrate his newfound freedom.
Binyomin Friedman, who was arrested last November by Israeli police, was given a place of honor on a platform-topped truck, traveling through the Charedi neighborhood amid a sea of supporters reported B’Chadrei Chareid (http://bit.ly/2gccczm). Prominent rabbonim turned out to pay tribute to Friedman while young boys waved light sticks as the procession continued through the streets amid singing and dancing.
At times, Friedman reached down to shake hands with the crowd, some of whom carried signs bearing slogans blasting the Israeli government and messages including “Rabbi Binyomin, the nation is with you.”
Friedman, a member of the Satmar community, was rewarded for his firm stance against the draft with a $24,000 gift from private contributors.
According to Arutz Sheva (http://bit.ly/2gaLZRV) Friedman was arrested after assaulting police officers during last fall’s demonstration and was ordered to serve his sentence in Netanya’s Hadarim prison.
Friedman was hailed for his bravery during his prison term, with supporters staging demonstrations outside the jail and his wife receiving an all expenses paid vacation at a Satmar summer camp in New York.
Letters of support encouraged Friedman during his incarceration, with one informing him that Satmar schoolchildren in Williamsburg held a designated study day in his honor, learning 600 pages of Gemara on his behalf, according to the Israel Versus Judaism blog. Another written by the Satmar Rebbe praising Friedman for being “our representative and the representative of the Almighty.”