by Vernon Smith
Greetings and peace and blessings upon each of every one of you that listen to this beat of ours… I want to share with you all some of my own “calls for help”– the first two relate to each other and a little bit more of what I’m going through now within my own journey. And the third one will be a shout-out and a cry-out for help from all of you, as you will see…
Alright now on my last prison term, which I ended up doing in ASP/Avenal from 2008-2012 I landed on the B-yard there, also known as the two yard. So anyways me being a Sephardic Messianic Jew, after saying what’s up to a few of my old friends, homies, and associates, I started searching for and seeking out any brothers of likeminded, beliefs based on the Torah roots teachings and come to find out we had a pretty nice strong minded congregation there- but not much at all in the way of any type of real programs or worship/service time in the chapel nor study books or Besorahs- bibles. Let alone DVD teachings or CDs within the two yard chapel there. So we all started to gather out on the yard on Shabbat/Saturday mornings between 9:30 a.m. and 11:00 a.m.
We did this for about eleven months and our study books and scripture books started to grow little by little, as did our study group of messianic believers “The Seekers of Yah.” About a total of a year of meetings out on the yard is when I met this strong faithful gentleman state chaplain in fact the Iman there at Avenal Prison for the Islamic community. And mind you, up too this time of meeting with this very wise, strong, caring man of faith we had no chapel time, no Shabbat service or feast- High Holidays set apart for us such as Pesach/Passover no chapel library for our books and other items were growing! So now after myself and Mr. Salaam, this wonderful Islamic chaplain, met and talked about the needs and wants and vision of the messianic and Jewish community as a whole. As I asked for his help I received even more so than I expected.
This Iman let us have book shelves and a storage locker as well as chapel service and worship time. This man of faith and a child of the most High, even went so far as to open up his chaplains PO Box for us Jews to acquire- just about everything we would need to be a strong messianic torah roots faith based assembly there in Avenal. I as the overseer and Jewish inmate chaplain was able to have religious oils and prayer shawls and kippahs sent with teachings on DVDs and CDs. All because I reached out and asked for help it was given to me for the group/assembly of men which I represented.
This same Islamic chaplain Mr. Salaam even went so far as to give those men whom were serious in there Halak/walk a set apart kosher like Halah special diet.
Now let’s fast forward a bit to my next call for help, while I was locked up in the LA County Men’s Central Jail while fighting this case. I’m locked up and doing time for now, mind you I am a messianic Jew who has been eating a kosher diet for more than fifteen years, I am also a Torah roots Messianic Jew who now keeps Torah and teaches Torah as well- I am a real ordained Messianic Torah roots inmate chaplain- ordained by the Torah roots institute out of Louisville, KY.
Now at this time I must explained a little bit more about myself just to give you a closer look at what I was and who I am- you see I started going to the halls and Juvenile camps when I was a young boy- twelve years old to be exact. I spent five years in and out of LA county’s finest, then for the most part got married at seventeen with my first wife- she was eighteen and we already had our first addition added to our little family- yes, my girl was already pregnant the day we got married. Now during the time from 1980-1987, we had three kids and I got in trouble again, locked up in the Fresno County Jail, doing a county year for drugs and during that time of me being locked up, my wife was killed by a hit and run driver who later on in a few years, we come to find out that it was an old boyfriend of my wife’s who killed her because she wouldn’t be with him.
So I went off the deep end and was mad at everyone including God. I started getting in trouble … Anyways, it didn’t take long before I ended up back in trouble again with the law and back in the system all over again and I ended up clicking up with a prison gang of which I was a big part of for fourteen years and have a lot of old tattoos that tell that story! But when I tell you that I came to my senses and left that lifestyle behind that’s exactly what this veterano did. While still in the SHU-unit I cried out to Yaweh, my creator, and ever since then I have been on this path of life where I follow Torah and I also became a certified licensed drug/substance abuse counselor for the state of California.
Anyways, as I sit inside of the LA County Jail and it was in that place where I met a ultra-Orthodox Jewish chaplain of whom I had asked for his help in helping to obtain the right kind of food as to my Kosher diet as I have been eating for several year is and out of Jail and prison and the free world. But sad to say that this man, this ultra-Orthodox Rabbi, being a very political and biased type individual who was against tattoos, was never going to grant any Kosher meals to someone like me because of where I come from. So I had to go on a two day hunger strike to get the captain’s and other staffs attention to where a correctional assistant came and questioned me on my diet and had me fill out the proper paperwork to where I was able to receive my meals, blessed be the Holy One.
You see as I reached out for help in my times of need I was provided with the help I needed. In one way or another one through a good faithful man of the holy blessed one and at another time even though this Rabbi who sits in a high position turned my call for help down, the most high who sits in the highest position of all allowed someone else to answer my call for help.
Now fast forward to my leaving county jail and arriving in Wasco Reception Center State Prison. I have to start my meals over, yet again, and who is the one person there at Wasco prison in charge of the kosher meal program none other than the very same Rabbi who worked LA County Jail. And (when I approached him) he was playing the same political game there, so he turned me down again. After five months well, then I left Wasco and landed here in Pleasant Valley State Prison and I just had a real good interview with the chaplain here for not only my kosher meals, but perhaps even a job position as a chaplain’s clerk as well.
So at this time I want to make another call for helping this call goes out to all of you young men and women out there: Just to ask you, please don’t give up on real honest things you believe in. I’m talking about the good things, the positive ones- the ones that really matter and I’m asking you all to keep on keeping on to persevere to the end and make your lives a good journey because it is what we make of it.
Shalom Shalom, peace out … and The Beat goes on.