Final Verdict Due on Jewish Children Nabbed in Hungary



A. four years old

D. two years old
The childern`s uncle,
Rabbi S.














More than half a year ago, in a case that made international headlines, a Jewish woman in Israel was ordered to return to Hungary with her two children so that her non-Jewish ex-husband could have visiting rights.

The woman had moved to Israel to be able to raise the children as Jews, but the Israeli family court, basing itself on the Hague convention, ruled that she had violated her former husband's rights by moving the children to a country where visitation would be curtailed.

Shortly after landing in Budapest, the woman got the shock of her life: The father, who was waiting at the exit of the airport together with his brothers, nabbed the children and stole her suitcase and purse, including her cell phone, before speeding off in his car. He left her there confused, penniless, alone, and, worst of all, bereft of her children.

She contacted the Hungarian police to file a complaint, but got nowhere. It turned out that her husband, a wealthy man, has friends among the local police, who managed to bury the file under mounds of paperwork.

In utter despair, the woman contacted a friend who advised her to call Yad L'Achim. "They have experience in helping Jewish women retrieve their children, even in the most hopeless cases," her friend suggested.

Yad L'Achim sprang into action, hiring prominent local lawyers to help the woman reestablish contact with her children, aged four and two.

After a series of intense, drawn-out court sessions, the judge ordered that the parents split custody, with the children spending one week in the home of the non-Jewish father and the next in the home of their Jewish mother. This was to be an interim solution, until the court ruled on a permanent arrangement.

The mother wasted no time in enrolling her children in Jewish pre-school so that, during their time with her, they would have a chance to strengthen their Jewish identity.

To her great pain, whenever she received the children, she had to spend the first two or three days "deprogramming" them from the poison they had been fed by their vindictive, anti-Semitic father. "After all the vile things he said about me, it took time for me to regain their trust," she said. "And then, right after Shabbos, they returned to his house for another round of incitement."

The mother related that recently, when she was walking with her children on a street in Hungary, her four-year-old son pointed to one of the large churches and related that his father had taken him there and told him: "J. lived here, and when he was in Israel, the Jews caused him pain. You mustn't go to Israel, so that they won't hurt you as well."

Last week, in a major breakthrough, the Hungarian court acceded to the request of Yad L'Achim's legal team to place the children with the mother, with the father getting them every other weekend and two and half hours during the week. But this ruling is also temporary, pending a final decision.

The legal proceedings are winding down, and a final decision on whether the children will grow up as Jews or, G-d forbid, be raised as non-Jews in Hungary is rapidly approaching. At this stage, the legal costs are skyrocketing: the lawyers have to be paid to spend more time on the case; investigators have to be hired; hundreds of documents have to be compiled and translated. In addition, there is the continued expense of rent and day-to-day living costs of the mother and her children; the courts must see that they are able to live on a decent standard.

In light of all this, Yad L'Achim this week launched a fundraising campaign on behalf of these two precious Jewish children who want nothing more than to live with their mother in a warm, loving home and put behind them the trials and tribulations they've been forced to endure.

The story of this woman and her children has been brought to the attention of Hagaon Harav Chaim Kanievski. His son-in-law, Hagaon Harav Yitzchak Koldetzki, wrote up a summary of the case, under the heading, "The Mitzvah of Pidyon Shuvyim [Redeeming Captives]." Harav Kanievski added, in his own handwriting, "All of the above is correct and it is a great mitzvah to help [and those who do] will be blessed with all good." To this he affixed his holy signature.

The women's brother, who has been at her side throughout her ordeal, said this week at the launch of the campaign: "We want to thank our Creator. Until this point, Yad L'Achim has provided us with a huge sum – more than NIS 100,000. We feel genuine gratitude to Yad L'Achim and the family of Am Yisrael for the moving way in which they came to our assistance. As we approach the decisive stage of the case, we desperately need the tefillos of Am Yisrael, and significant additional funds to continue with the activities of the lawyers and to bring about the hoped for result, which appears closer than ever."


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