Aleph Institute Starts Computer Skills Certification Program

Article excerpt

The Aleph Institute's goal is to make sure no one is forgotten.

For more than 20 years, the institute's northeast regional headquarters in Squirrel Hill has been helping Jewish men and women in prison, offering spiritual guidance, religious instruction, support groups for families and more.

"Their voices get lost," said Rabbi Moishe Mayir Vogel, the institute's executive director. "It's only normal to worry about the bigger numbers."

Aleph is expanding its reach, recently starting a computer skills certification program to increase inmates' chances of finding a job after their release.

"It is imperative they come out with some education," Vogel said. Aleph partners with several local businesses to help ex-inmates find jobs.

Of the 216,000 inmates in the Federal Bureau of Prisons, about 2 percent, or 3,605, are Jewish, the bureau says. In Allegheny County, 450 to 500 Jewish people are arrested each year, Vogel said.

The cost of the computer certification program is $200 per inmate, although Aleph is able to offer scholarships to some who cannot afford it.

Vogel said inmates can begin the program in prison and complete it at Aleph after their release.

Aleph has 90 volunteers who annually visit about 2,000 inmates in more than 100 county jails and federal and state prisons. …