Today a Chanuka party was held at Shikma Prison in Ashkelon, where Shmuel Zetham/Jeff Seath is being held. Each prisoner was allowed to invite five guests, and I had the honor of appearing on Jeff's "VIP" list... ;^} After the usual search of each person and a very long wait, the party finally got started around 3:15 pm (it was called for 2 pm).

The officers' dining hall (complete with a real toilet and not just a hole in the ground) was the scene of the party, decorated with a large paper Chanukia on the wall, and other assorted Chanukiada. All the tables were set and laden with lots of nosh and drinks, and a real Chanukia was waiting for someone to light it later on (Jeff was picked for this task, but unfortunately never got to do his thing, as you'll read later).

One of the guards made a little speech in the beginning, during which he said that the prison was not the natural place of the "dayarim" (tenants, a.k.a. prisoners)... my suggestion to therefore release them to the far more natural environment of freedom was ignored.

There were many children in attendance, who were given wooden dreidles to decorate and paint. Both adults and children were given the opportunity to display their singing "talents" in a session of Karaioke, during which DVDs were shown with the music and the words on the screen, and people were invited to sit in front and sing the words into a microphone, to the delight of all (unfortunately for the attendees, neither Jeff nor his three guests were invited to sing...). The songs were Israeli classics (such as those of Zohar Argov) and Chanuka songs. Some of the kids danced a cute dreidle dance, to the tune of "s'vivon, sov sov sov".

Unfortunately, those prisoners/detainees who hadn't invited any family/friends were not allowed to attend the party, and this included a few I wanted to meet, whose names and canteen numbers I had posted on this site.

One of the guards there told me that Jeff drives him crazy, and I graciously replied to him that Jeff is only doing his job...

The party, which had originally been set to last for 2 hours, ended when the same guard announced that all of the "dayarim" would stay and clean up the place, while the guests had to leave - at 4:30, barely an hour and a quarter after it got started. Which explains why Jeff never got to light the menora, because the party wasn't allowed to go on till dark.

True, we got jipped time-wise, but it was as nice a little party as is possible in a jail...

Chag Urim Sameach - Shabbat Shalom.


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