Yad L'Achim Wages Legal Battle for Custody of Jewish Infant

Yad L'Achim Wages Legal Battle for Custody of Jewish Infant (Enlarge)

Yad L'Achim's legal team is waging a fierce battle for the future of a two-year-old Jewish girl.

The story began eight years ago when a Jewish woman and her three children moved to Israel, after the head of the family passed away abroad. The family moved to a mixed city and found itself in dire financial straits. For that reason, Tamar (not her real name) and her siblings performed poorly in school and dropped out, spending much of their time on the streets. Not surprisingly, Tamar ended up meeting a minority member and before long the two were married.

Two years later, Tamar gave birth to their daughter, whom they named Yasmin. Then Tamar's mother got sick and died and the burden of raising her siblings fell to Tamar, who found it overwhelming. Because of her complex emotional state, her Arab husband convinced Tamar to give their baby to his mother to raise, to give her time to recover.

During this period, the Arab husband was jailed for committing property crimes, and his mother asked the Sharia court to award her permanent custody of Yasmin. The court favorably considered the request and sought the permission of her son, Yasmin's Arab father, who quickly consented. However, it ignored Tamar and failed to seek her permission, as required by law.

The Sharia court transferred the details of the arrangement to the Social Welfare Ministry and asked for recommendations on how to proceed with custody for the baby.

The ministry also ignored Tamar and without bothering to ask her opinion, issued an official declaration stating that Yasmin would be handed to the custody of her grandmother for half a year.

After half a year, the story repeated itself, and the welfare people compounded their error: First, they again ignored due process that requires the approval of the child's mother and merely informed her verbally that they were leaving the child with her grandmother for another half a year; second, without informing Tamar, they made a written recommendation that permanent custody of the Jewish girl be given to her Arab grandmother.

The Sharia court, as expected, adopted the decision and Yasmin was placed in her grandmother's custody permanently.

At the end of the additional half a year, during which time Tamar left her Arab husband and recovered emotionally, she felt ready to take her child back and raise her as a Jew. She asked her mother in law for her child back, but was presented with an official document signed by the Sharia court stating that the child was to remain with her Arab grandmother until she was fully grown.

At this point, Tamar turned to Yad L'Achim with a desperate plea for help. A social worker with expertise in these laws accompanied her to the Social Welfare Agency to clarify what had happened. To everyone's shock it became clear that the Jewish baby had been transferred to the permanent custody of her Arab grandmother, in utter disregard of all the legal safeguards.

At that point, Yad L'Achim assigned its legal team to fight for the child and get her returned to her Jewish mother.

One of the lawyers filed a petition to the family court asking that the Sharia court's decision be overruled. In his petition, the lawyer stressed that Yasmin had been totally uprooted from her family and mother. Such that, for instance, she speaks only Arabic and therefore has difficulty communicating with her mother and Jewish relatives.

Yad L'Achim reports that the case is in a delicate state. "We won't rest until the baby is returned to the hands of her Jewish mother. It is heartbreaking to see a child cry bitterly every time her mother has to return her to her grandmother after one of their infrequent visits together."

As for the battle for the child's return to her mother, Yad L'Achim's lead lawyer says that "if necessary, we will go to the Supreme Court, and even bring the masses out into the street to protest against the stealing of a Jewish child from her mother."

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