Michael Zoosman

A Jew Shares Reflections on Teshuvah/Repentance During Elul before his Execution

Image: Undated Image of Jedidiah Murphy, Courtesy of Vivian Schwarz. No copyright. 

Jedidiah Isaac Murphy – a Jewish man slated for state killing in Texas on World Day Against the Death Penalty (October 10th) – has shared with L’chaim! Jews Against the Death Penalty his reflections on Teshuvah/Repentance for the month of Elul. Jedidiah is indeed guilty of horrific murder on October 4, 2000 of 79-year-old Bertie Lee Harmon Cunningham (b. Dec. 31, 1919) – Zichrona Livracha: may her memory be for an everlasting blessing and may her abiding neshama/spirit be a loving guide for us all. May her loved ones be comforted among all the mourners of the world…

Jedidiah has admitted his guilt and has demonstrated sincere contrition, including throughout my correspondence with him over the years. He also has lived with diagnosed Dissociative Identity Disorder and is a product of a broken foster care system through whose cracks he fell from a very young age, and a broken legal system that allowed him to be convicted on a blatantly false aggravating factor. All the above facts are outlined in detail at, the website established for Jedidiah. Our partners at Death Penalty Action have set up this petition asking that he be spared for all these reasons. 

Today, as I publish Jedidiah’s words below, it is Jedidiah’s 48th birthday. May he have many more birthdays to impart to the world the lessons he has learned of what to do – and what not to do. 


Above Image: Jedidiah’s message, as transcribed below, sent to the author on August 31, 2023

Jedidiah’s words: 

“Shalom Cantor..This is what I learned about repentance. When we are young and we do something wrong..we apologize or say we’re sorry and that is that. All is forgiven, because as children that is about the limit we could understand. However, as adults..that all changes. You cannot say you’re sorry repeatedly, even if you mean it, and expect others to keep forgiving you. It takes more. Asking for forgiveness is [the] first step in a process that involves making CHANGES! I have been in this situation for 23 years and since the beginning..I have had to shoulder the weight of the pain all of this caused. It cannot be avoided, or wished away because my life is 7X9 feet of concrete box. I never did a documentary or interview at all until now because I never wanted to cause more harm to those I hurt. I do it now as a way to try and keep people from this path of pain and sorrow I’ve been walking for decades. I take responsibility, and I always have because in all the wrong things I’ve done..I needed more than anything to do the right thing here. That admission helped to change my life and I believe Hashem required that of me to heal my broken life. I understand why people avoid it, but they do it at their own peril because healing comes from understanding what went wrong and how much it affected other people. I share my regrets and my beliefs because its been proven again and again to be the right way. I really would sacrifice my life to undo this hurt, and those that know me..know I speak the truth. May Hashem bless all of you and keep, and make his face shine upon you. He has certainly done that to me. Shalom, Jedidiah”


Shabbat Shalom…

L’shalom uL’chaim – for Peace and for Life,

Cantor Michael J. Zoosman, MSM

Board Certified Chaplain –  Neshama: Association of Jewish Chaplains

Co-Founder: L’chaim! Jews Against the Death Penalty

Advisory Committee Member, Death Penalty Action

About the Author
Cantor Michael Zoosman is a Board Certified Chaplain with Neshama: Association of Jewish Chaplains (NAJC) and received his cantorial investiture from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in 2008. He sits as an Advisory Committee Member at Death Penalty Action and is the co-founder of “L’chaim! Jews Against the Death Penalty.” Michael is a former Jewish prison chaplain and psychiatric hospital chaplain. Currently, he is a multi-faith hospital chaplain at a federal research hospital, the National Institutes of Health - Clinical Center. His comments here represent his own opinions.
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