Israeli Rabbinical Court Overturns Ruling to Remove Kids From Mother's Care Amid Adultery Claim

In U-turn, the court in central Israel said there is 'no pretext or argument' to strip the mother of custody of the two children, after her husband accused her of adultery without providing evidence

Aaron Rabinowitz
Aaron Rabinowitz
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Ultra-Orthodox family walks through a checkpoint in Jerusalem during the second COVID-19 lockdown in Israel, last month.
Ultra-Orthodox family walks through a checkpoint in Jerusalem during the second COVID-19 lockdown in Israel, last month.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg
Aaron Rabinowitz
Aaron Rabinowitz

A rabbinical court ordered on Thursday that two children should be returned to their mother's custody, overruling their own decision four days earlier to remove them from her care in light of accusations of adultery from her husband.  

“The court’s impression is that there is no pretext or argument or reasonable fear that would justify stripping the mother of her parental rights or limiting them,” the ruling said. “Therefore, the court orders that the restrictions imposed in previous decisions be canceled.”

On Sunday, the Netanya Rabbinical Court had ruled that the woman could not leave the house with her children in the evening unless her husband accompanied her, after her husband had accused her of adultery. One day later, it decided to remove the children from her care entirely and send them to their grandmother.

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As a result, when the woman came to pick the children up from preschool later that week, the teacher refused to let her take them.

The rulings, which were issued without the woman being allowed to provide her side of the story, were handed down at the husband’s request in response to his claim that the woman was committing adultery, and that she was meeting the other man while her son was with her. He claimed to know this because he had her under surveillance, but didn’t provide any footage.

On Thursday, the Rabbinical Courts Administration issued a statement insisting that the children hadn’t been removed from their mother’s care due to her alleged adultery, but because the husband had claimed they were in danger from her. However, that doesn’t jibe with the initial ruling, which allowed her to take care of the children all day as long as she didn’t take them out of the house in the evening without her husband coming along.

The court's administration also claimed that the rabbinical court had scheduled an urgent hearing on the issue of its own initiative. But in fact, it was the woman’s attorney who requested the urgent hearing.

“The court had to act as it did to protect the young children,” the administration’s statement said. “Based on the father’s statements, the children faced grave and immediate danger to their lives. Therefore, the court had to act immediately, even before looking into the matter.”

The woman’s attorney, Arthur Shani, said that under the law the administration cited, children must indeed be removed immediately from the dangerous parent if there’s any fear that their lives are in danger, but a hearing must then be scheduled within seven days to determine whether that fear is justified. “In reality, the court ignored the law it cited, because no hearing was scheduled,” he charged.

“The parties were summoned before the court only after we requested that the injunction be canceled. And if it really feared for the children’s lives, why didn’t it take steps like contacting a social worker?” he added.

“Trampling on the mother’s rights and sending the minors to a third party – the grandmother, whose fitness to care for them nobody examined – isn’t within the range of the actions the legislator intended,” he concluded. “The court didn’t achieve anything except dealing a mortal blow to the woman’s parental rights.”

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