Pittsburgh Jews Volunteer to Mentor Jewish ACJ Inmates

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At age 79, Patti Anouchi has a new career: mentor to soon-to-be released Jewish inmates. Actually, Anouchi is a volunteer, but she’s taking this work as seriously as she did her former career as counselor to domestic violence victims.

“Everyone deserves a second chance,” Anouchi said. “That’s what you have to figure, how can you assist [an inmate] in coming to a second chance and gaining a second chance.”

Anouchi is part of a new program developed by the Aleph Institute to pair mentors with Jewish inmates at the Allegheny County Jail who are about to be released.

The program, which was formally set up last October, is just now going into effect. Seven volunteers have been trained for a Jewish inmate population of 12. However, that number frequently changes.

The initial problem, according to Rabbi Moishe Mayir Vogel, executive director of the North East Region of Aleph, is that all but one of the Jewish inmates at ACJ, as of this writing, are men, while five of the seven mentors are women.

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