JewishMOM Wendy Runge Released from Iowa Prison

JewishMOM Wendy Runge Released from Iowa Prison

JewishMOM of four, Wendy Runge of Minnesota, was released this past Friday from an Iowa prison after serving only about half a year of her 10-year prison sentence.

Wendy was sentenced in May 2011 of allegedly stealing tax incentives offered to filmmakers in Iowa. Wendy insists that every step she took was made with the step-by-step guidance of Tom Wheeler, director of the Iowa Film Office, as well as other employees of the office.

Debbie Maimon and R&R Levitin of Yated Neeman report: “Wheeler was among six officials in Iowa fired or forced to quit over allegations they mismanaged the film tax credit program…

“Wheeler had guided and mentored Wendy and other producers on how to take advantage of the tax incentives. That advice had turned out to be disastrous for her and many others who were now accused of abusing the program…”

After losing her appeal this past February, Wendy reported to an Iowa prison to begin serving a 10 year sentence. While in prison, Wendy missed the bar mitzvah of her youngest son, Zecharia, this past May.

Wendy Runge at her trial

Wendy Runge at her trial

B”H, this past Friday, Wendy appeared before Iowa’s Parole Board. After looking over her case, the judge explained, ““Had I presided over your case, it would have been much different” and immediately freed her from prison on 2 years parole. She even made it home in time for Shabbat…

Debbie Maimon and R&R Levitin of Yated Neeman report: “While we were speaking to Wendy late Sunday evening, we could hear her children in the background asking, “Mommy, are you going to tuck us in and say Shema with us in person tonight?”

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Wendy’s release took place in these days leading up to Rosh Hashana. It’s a message to each of us as we cope with our own personal struggles: don’t give up, JewishMOM! G-d’s redemption can come in the blink of an eye, just as it did for Wendy and her husband and children.

Here’s two inspirational excerpts from letters that Wendy sent out when she was in prison written before and during this last Passover…

My cell mate is an older African American woman with extensive issues.
EXTENSIVE. She has been coughing all night for a week, getting moodier
and more mercurial, and the cough got worse although she was in denial.
I’ve heard that cough…our beloved Opa OBM died from something similar,
and we took care of him until the very end B”H.

Last night was a nightmare and today she was clearly in distress. Congnitive disconnect even more pervasive than usual and when asked by the guards she was unable to recall the date or the President of the USA. The guards do a “count” several times a day, and when she could not be roused by them for the count, they took action. She was carried off by the guards and a nurse (all of them are really excellent people with a lot of compassion) and immediately taken to the hospital. I noticed that her sheets were soiled, so the guard removed them and I disinfected the entire room, made sure her possessions (meds) were locked up properly and made arrangements for new sheets and blankets to be brought in case the hospital does not keep her.

I tell you this because the guard on duty must have thanked me 10 times. I was shocked (although very little shocks me here anymore!!) This was NOT a big deal. Small acts of chessed for a woman who has no one in the world to take care of her where no one else was willing to step up and the guards have their hands full!

HaShem has been very, very good to me and I have no complaints.

This is NOT to toot my own horn… I have to assume it is the job of every Yid
to step in where there is a NEED and act the way HaShem would want us to act.
If we can do so to honor His name…we will WIN the big prize and dance together
at the coming of Moshiach. Frankly, I’m in this life to do my small part to WIN THE BIG

From this past Passover:

Guten Moed!

I am so happy to be able to communicate with all of you about my thoughts on this Pesach. No question that I cried the entire first seder…a lot of pressure under difficult circumstances…but Baruch HaShem…we made it. The second seder, I sang (in my cell), laughed at memories of Pesach and the dreams for l’Shana haba b’Yerushalayim!!! I found the simcha…it took a while.

Here in prison, if inmates follow the rules, we are allowed the privilege of walking around the court yard during daylight hours. High barbed wire fences, cameras and guards every where I walked past one group of older inmates who were excited about the “freedom” they were enjoying in the nice weather.

The foul language, the gossip, the fights, inappropriate behaviors all around us. I choose to ignore it and walk on.

My father-in-law,OBM, would tell the story of coming home from a prison camp in Siberia and his brother offered him a bicycle to build up his strength. Opa asked him where exactly he could go…after being in prison so long, he needed to know his limits. His brother told him to go wherever you want, “You’re free”. Opa stopped at that point of the story and told me that he did not know what the word “freedom” meant any longer.

Baruch HaShem, Opa learned what freedom meant. It took him over 20 years, but he found true freedom and he never had any limits again after he became a shomer Shabbos Jew. He brought our beloved Oma (OBM) and my wonderful husband, Pinchus, into a life of Torah and mitzvos.

Is this difficult? Yes. Is it easier with FOOD (long story…enjoy whatever you can cook. My jaws are TIRED from eating pounds and pounds of baby carrots each day!) provided and your mail and emails.

However, we all share something that billions of people will NEVER know. They will never comprehend because the Torah is so BIG and so amazing that it cannot be contained behind fences and behind walls. The yoke of freedom…the Torah. Baruch HaShem…we have the TRUE GIFT OF FREEDOM.

So what do we do with this gift? We give it away when we encourage one more Yid to join us for one more mitzvah…

I love you all, your support and your dedication to OUR FREEDOM. I love you…Have a chag kasher v’samayach.



Thanks so much to JewishMOM Julie Levi for sharing this fantastic news with me…


  1. Dvora Lakein

    This news is completely miraculous! I am so thrilled to read of Wendy’s release from prison. Wendy is a wonderful woman, fun and brilliant, a woman with a great sense of humor and an even greater achrayus for those lucky enough to be in her midst. I know this because I was privileged to have Wendy as my teacher in high school. Baruch Hashem! A blessing for Wendy and a blessing for her family and community!

  2. All women are invited to support Rachels Children Reclamation Foundation founded in 1995 to save Rachel’s Tomb from the threat of Oslo. And RCRF did it with writing contests to save the Jewish identity and pride of roots and the midos of Rachel Imeinu. Our Sefer Torah won with a raffle as Rachel Imeinu pushed me to do more and more got Kever Rachel open 24 hours a day, now entrance closed for cleaning 10:30 pm to midnight. From handing our flyers and petitioning to save the buses, the double buses are without standing room and sometimes another double bus follows. So much prayer.
    But there is bullying, stealing and destruction to take away the RCRF charity investment of over $545,000 to make this a respected site for righteous women and learning for everyone. Some of the money was saved for my children’s homes. I thought there would be donations as I put Beit Bnei Rachel first, but there were others using my midos mission for a gold mine and for a father-in-law to give parnassa to his son in law, the rabbi who locked us out,axed our doors and walls, destroys up our Museum of Jewish Aliyah, takes our signs off the walls and replaces them for themselves, intimidates our teachers and groups of even a hundred, takes chairs away before an upshurin, cancels a bris that had army approval. As Rosh Hoshana is coming and we read Yirmiyahu 31, its time to support us, attend our classes, Wednesday at 11 with Atara gur teaching about 10 years. This takeover, throw out women group calling for new blood, not the founder, initiator, the woman who put her money where her heart and soul is – is for Mother Rachel. They don’t show in court, are in contempt of court, don’t listen to the police, the judges, stall, lie, slander and steal, building walls in property they don’t own, changing facts on the ground. Women, we need justice, we need Beit Bnei Rachel, the Jewish world needs Beit Bnei Rachel, The House of Rachels Children> Help put sign back in Memory of my two Rachel Grandmothers, the same wording as on the Sefer Torah in Rachel’s Tomb. Your voice will get out the cymbals and shofars and help end the bullying against the American grandmother and her supporters and those in love with the Mother Israel who cries for us, whose heart and soul are for our loving matriarch. Yes, Evelyn Haies needs your blessing so there can be more blessings. google for our programs and links as we continue on stronger in the midst of the bullying of women, intimidating, destroying, shaming Klal Yisroel in our third holiest place. Yes, Wendy, I need a blessing too to make all my dreams for Bnei Rachel come true and to stop my tears and the tears of the women who have sacrificed their classes to bullies. Yes, things are bad but we continue to do only good. Join. Visit the home advertised to investors as a Bas Mitzvah Center where we want to build Medreshet Chaya Rachel and Ruth and so much more. Shame the squatters into teshuva or

  3. Wendy i want to thank you for all i learned from being your roommate look me up on facebook. I am back in college and you will remain forever in my prayers


    read about you in Ami
    Rechy wrote about you with so much passion

    Dvora, I didn’t know that you know Wendy personally

    open up, learn lots of new stuff!

  5. I met Wendy Runge personally in 2012 when I stayed in the Minneapolis frum community for a shabbat when I was attending a medical conference. I stayed in the home of the woman who ran the shul Wendy and her family belonged to and stayed in touch with her. There is a LONG story attached to what I think was a quietly done miracle that I was personally zoche to be a part of with that amazing community, that in my heart of hearts makes me truly believe that this miracle of her jail stay being shortened so much may have been in the merit of. It’s too much to write about here. Jenny, if you want to know the story, please email me. It’s incredible and I’d like to know if you think it should be shared–that community did something amazing for this woman–I had the contact available to help them do this because this person who was able to help make this miracle happen for this community heads a very special organization, and happens to be my neighbor four or five houses down. My email is I’d love to email you the story if you’re interested.

  6. I knew nothing about Wendy’s plight, but I rejoice at her release. Her statement from prison, “HaShem has been very, very good to me and I have no complaints” had me in tears. I will quote it to my Kesher Wife Community.

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