In 1983, Ronald Reagan declared the Year of the Bible. He had been so impacted by the scriptures that he wanted to honor it as president.
At the same time, Nathan Sharansky, a physicist in Russia, was in a notorious KGB prison in Moscow. He had wanted to immigrate to Israel from the Soviet Union but the Communists would have nothing of it. They threw him into this prison without a trial.
Pravda, the Communist propaganda newspaper, was the only reading material he was allowed to read. Pravda mockingly covered Reagan’s Year of the Bible announcement on the front page. His KGB minders gave it to Sharansky.
Sharansky and his cellmate read the article and were thrilled. Sharansky decided that if he could get a Bible, he would begin reading it. His talked his captors into giving him a Bible that his wife had sent to him from Israel. He and his cellmate began reading it. They called these readings, Reaganite Readings.
When Sharansky got to Psalm 23, his heart was illuminated with joy! As he read it, he said that he felt as if he was connected to King David, his wife and friends. His despair in this moment, he said, was turned into peace and joy.
Eventually, Ronald Reagan was instrumental in getting Sharansky released. Reagan invited him to the White House and that is when he told President Reagan his story.
Today, Nathan Sharansky is the head of the Jewish Agency, encouraging Jews worldwide to immigrate to Israel. In his breast pocket, since his release from prison over thirty years ago, Sharansky carries that Hebrew Bible that he read in prison.