In his modest Jerusalem apartment, convicted spy Jonathan Pollard sits in mourning for his wife Esther who died on Monday after being infected by COVID-19.
As he receives visitors offering their condolence Pollard speaks of his late wife and her long-years' fight for his release from jail where he served his decades long sentence since his conviction on espionage charges in 1987.
Pollard was tried and convicted of spying against the US for Israeli intelligence in 1985 and served a 30-year prison sentence despite repeated attempts by Israeli prime ministers to convince US presidents to sign off on his release.
He was freed from prison under restrictive terms of house arrest in 2015,
and remained in the U.S. until all restrictions of his parole were lifted in 2020. He and wife Esther, who he married in 1993during his incarceration, arrived in Israel in December of 2020.
Esther had been battling cancer and was receiving treatment in Jerusalem but had contracted COVID and succumbed to her illness.
"I have no doubt that her long fight for my release came at the cost of her health," he said adding that she had little time left to take care of herself. "For that I will owe her a dept for the rest of my life," he said.
He recounted Esther's relentless efforts and public advocacy campaign including forcing the powerful in Israel to ask themselves if they were doing all that was possible to secure her husband's release from jail.
He said she forced him to look into his past and see the generations of Jews that he has followed, many of them orthodox rabbis. This he explained was the reason that he turned to religion.
Pollard said Esther did not only fight for his release from prison but also from his perception of himself as a diaspora Jew, which ultimately brought him to Israel "to live the life of truth and live according to the will of God," he said.
Esther's illness prevented the couple from touring Israeli and Jewish sites since their arrival but they did manage a visit and deliver a bible they funded, to what some call "Joseph's Tomb" in the West Bank city of Nablus.
"This was a dream we were able to fulfill," he said.