Released Israeli Naama Issachar lights Sabbath candles in gratitude

“I haven’t forgotten. Lighting Shabbat candles,” Issachar wrote.

By Aaron Sull, World Israel News 

Ever since her release from a Russian prison two and a half weeks ago, Naama Issachar has taken it upon herself to light the Sabbath candles every Friday night.

Last Friday, Issachar sent a photo of the candles she lit to Shia Deutsch, a Chabad emissary in Moscow who encouraged the then jailed woman to light the Sabbath candles during her frequent visits to Issachar’s jail cell.

“Almost a year since our acquaintance. I haven’t forgotten. Lighting Shabbat candles,” Issachar captioned the picture.

In response, Deutch said “About a year ago, she was arrested here and, with the grace of Heaven, the right move was made quietly and she was released thank G-d, after a relatively short period.

“On Shabbat eve, about a year later, she sent moving photos from the table and candlesticks ready for the holy Shabbat, as she has done every Shabbat eve since,” Deutch said.

Issachar made headlines in April 2019 after being arrested in Moscow’s airport when Russian authorities discovered 9.5 grams of marijuana in her luggage.

Despite her denial of putting the drugs there, Issachar was taken from the airport to a detention center in Moscow. She was then charged with drug possession, which often entails one month of detention, a fine and a ban on entering the country.

However, shortly afterward, the public prosecutor changed the charge from drug possession to drug smuggling.

On Oct. 11, 2019, Issachar was sentenced to seven and a half years in prison.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu brought up the case of the jailed teen more than once in conversations with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

In January, Putin agreed to sign a presidential decree pardoning Issachar. According to the Kremlin, the jailed teen was freed on “humanitarian principles.

Following her pardon, Netanyahu personally went to bring Issachar back home.

Issachar was chastised last week for posting a thank-you note on her Facebook account in which she thanked a long list of people but left out Netanyahu. Her mother said it was meant to be a thank-you only for activists. However, two Israeli mayors were also included.

Issachar later removed the offending post.

Israel reportedly made a number of gestures to Russia in order to help facilitate her release. These included the transfer of formerly Russian property in Jerusalem to the Russian church and loosening restrictions for Russian citizens entering Israel, reports say.