Wife of convicted spy fought for his release, died in Jerusalem after long struggle with breast cancer and recent COVID-19 infection.
By World Israel News Staff
Esther Pollard, wife of Jonathan Pollard, who was convicted of spying on behalf of Israel and served more than three decades in an American prison, died in a Jerusalem hospital on Monday.
Born Elaine Zeitz in Toronto, Canada, she married Pollard in 1993 while he was in prison and worked as a tireless advocate for her husband’s release.
The pair originally met as teenagers during a trip to Israel. Esther began to write letters to him after she discovered he had been convicted and imprisoned of espionage in 1987.
Pollard, who has been ill with breast cancer for years, contracted COVID-19 in mid-January and was hospitalized over the weekend, with a family spokesman calling for prayers “following a deterioration in her condition.”
Her husband confirmed to Hebrew-language media that her death was triggered by septic shock, stemming from her COVID infection.
“I did not imagine in my worst nightmares that I would lose Esther. After decades of fighting for my release, I felt so helpless that I could not help her in her struggle for life,” he said.
Jonathan Pollard was released from prison in 2015 but was subject to parole conditions, including an electronic tracking bracelet and a blanket ban on leaving New York.
Shortly after those conditions were removed in 2020, the pair immigrated to Israel, settling in Jerusalem.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said he was “saddened to hear” about Pollard’s death. She was a “symbol of strength, determination and faith. May her memory be a blessing,” he added.
“Esther displayed unending determination over many long years to bring about Jonathan’s release,” said former prime minister and current leader of the opposition Benjamin Netanyahu in a statement.
“I promised her in our meetings that I would bring Jonathan home. Even when her health was suffering she continued her relentless fight for her husband, did not concede and did not stop dreaming,” he said.