Former Shas minister Shlomo Benizri was granted his first family visit in jail Sunday.
Benizri was convicted of multiple counts of fraud and sentenced to four years in jail, which he will serve at the Maasiyahu Prison.
Benizri was placed in Maasiyahu's religious cellblock. The block holds 80 other inmates, who are allowed to spend a large portion of the day studying Torah.
The former minister's wife and six children told reporters the experience was difficult: "The judges should do some soul searching. Judgment Day has arrived. We shouldn’t be here," said his wife.
The family was permitted to spend 30 minutes with Benizri. "It's heart-wrenching to see dad like this, so humiliated. There wasn’t a dry eye left," said his son Ariel.
The family, he added, struggled especially with seeing Benizri in his inmate overalls. "Seeing him like that, a man who always made sure to look dignified, the way he really is, coming out with prison clothes... It was unbearable."
The Benizris arriving at Maasiyahu (Photo: Avi Mualem)
Netanel, another of Benizri's sons, told Ynet that his father was keeping busy: "He gave four lectures and he said it was fun. He told us that (the inmates) cook together and eat together and that he teaches."
Despite his own difficulties, added Ariel, his father's Torah studies were keeping his spirits high. "He is experiencing the natural difficulties of falling from grace but thank God – he has the faith and the strength to see himself through this."
"I believe he's doing well," said Netanel. "The guys inside call him 'Rabbi Benizri' and show him the same respect he was shown on the outside. He's feeling good."