The Orthodox and the unorthodox appeal to Trump: Pardon Ari Teman


(JTA) — Ari Teman, a Jewish standup comic who once won a national contest seeking a “Jewish community hero” has united an array of Orthodox rabbis with leading standup comics in an appeal to President Trump to pardon him for bank fraud.

Teman has compiled a video to be launched on social media next week with more than 60 people saying “Mr. President, please pardon Ari Teman.” A jury found him guilty in January; Teman says his accusers perjured themselves and that federal prosecutors withheld evidence. His lawyers have asked the judge to vacate the decision. He faces sentencing in December.

Among those making the appeal are a number of Chabad rabbis; Rabbi Steven Pruzansky, who has held senior positions in the Rabbinical Council of America; Brian Kiley, a longtime staff writer for Conan O’Brien; and Dan Naturman, a comic who has made numerous appearances on late-night TV. His parents close the video saying, “Mr. President, please pardon our son, Ari Teman.”

Alan Dershowitz, the famed constitutional lawyer, is on Teman’s team.

Teman straddles multiple worlds, working comedy clubs and volunteering with Chabad. He invented an artificial intelligence security system that he markets. Teman withdrew funds from the accounts of landlords who were using the security system. He says he was authorized to withdraw the funds. The landlords in court testimony said they did not anticipate the withdrawals but they acknowledged they did not fully read the terms of the contract.

In 2009, he won the Jewish Federation of North America’s “Jewish Community Hero” award for a group he founded, JCorps, that matches young Jews with volunteer opportunities. He made headlines in 2014 when he found out that an AirBnB renter had used his apartment for an orgy.

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