By Dan Slobodkin
After three weeks without tefillin or kosher food, arrangements have now been made to allow Eli H., who was charged with smuggling drugs into Spain, wear tefillin every day.
According to a Chabad website, the fundraiser en route to Costa Rica was tricked into taking a package of drugs into the country.
As soon as the Israeli Consulate in Madrid heard about the arrest, they asked prison authorities to permit him to receive kosher food and tefillin, but the requests were denied. Spanish prisons do not allow items that have strings or straps, such as tefillin, due to concerns they could be used for suicide or to harm other prisoners. A personal appeal from Spain’s Chief Rabbi Moshe Ben Dahan was also denied.
The prison warden has now made an exception in this case – the first time the Spanish prison system has encountered an Orthodox Jew – allowing Eli to lay his tefillin in the presence of a guard. He has also been permitted to receive kosher food.