Remarkably Un-Jewish – Haredim Vandalizing Reform Synagogues and Threatening to Murder Reform Leaders

 

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Haredi Orthodox man indicted in Israel for death threats against Reform leaders

JERUSALEM (JTA) — A man from the haredi Orthodox town of Bnei Brak was indicted for making death threats against leaders of the Reform movement and vandalizing a Reform synagogue.

The man, whose name has not been made public, was arrested last month and prosecutors asked that he be held in custody until the end of his trial. He was indicted Monday on charges of extortion, threats, vandalism and intent to commit arson.

He allegedly also targeted the left-wing Breaking the Silence organization and threatened well-known atheists in Israel.

The incidents date back to 2014.

In November 2016, hate graffiti was painted on the walls of the Kehilat Ra’anan Reform synagogue in Raanana and death threats left in envelopes held down by a knife addressed to prominent Reform leaders were left at its doorstep.

The phrase “The divine presence will never leave the Western Wall,” was spray-painted on the building, as well biblical references “Ovadia 18 and 21,” and “Psalms 139:21-22.” The Ovadia citation deals with the destruction of Israel’s enemies at the hand of a vengeful God. The Psalms citation states of enemies of God, “I hate them with utmost hatred; they have become my enemies.”

The letters were addressed to Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism; Rabbi Gilad Kariv, executive director of the Israel Movement for Reform and Progressive Judaism; and Anat Hoffman, chair of Women of the Wall and the head of the Israel Religious Action Center, the advocacy arm of the Reform movement in Israel. The threats came days after a protest for egalitarian prayer at the Western Wall led by the Reform leaders.

It was the second time the Raanana synagogue had been vandalized. Similar graffiti has been painted on the walls of the synagogue in January 2016, though no death threats had been issued. The threats included arson against the synagogue.

The man also left threatening letters held down by knives and graffiti outside of the homes of Israeli atheists, and had information on activists for Breaking the Silence in order to leave similar messages. He reportedly also had purchased gasoline and other equipment in order to burn down the headquarters of Breaking the Silence.

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Military Exemption for Ultra-Orthodox in Israel, Finally Ruled Unconstitutional

Ultra-Orthodox Jews praying at the Western Wall in the Old City area of Jerusalem in June.CreditAtef Safadi/European Pressphoto Agency

JERUSALEM — Israel’s Supreme Court on Tuesday struck down the current government arrangement allowing for mass exemptions for ultra-Orthodox Jews from compulsory military service, calling it discriminatory and unconstitutional. The ruling redraws the battle lines over an issue that has long roiled Israeli society.

The impassioned debate over military exemptions for strictly Orthodox Jews engaged in full-time Torah study goes to the heart of the struggle for the future character of Israel.

In a country where most Jewish men and women are conscripted at 18, and where the military is hallowed as a social equalizer and a people’s army protecting Israel from threats on its borders, past attempts to reduce the scope of exemptions and create a more equitable sharing of the national burden only seem to have underscored deep social divisions.

“The history of this societal controversy reflects the history of the State of Israel itself,” wrote the departing president of the Supreme Court, Justice Miriam Naor, in the 148-page ruling, noting that the court had already ruled on the issue several times before.

The court gave the government a year to come up with alternative legislation that would satisfy the basic principle of equality. This latest ruling came in response to a petition by several nongovernmental pressure groups and Yesh Atid, a centrist party led by Yair Lapid, who has championed the cause of equal service in recent years both in the government and now in the opposition.

The court decision was reached by eight members of a nine-judge panel sitting as the High Court of Justice, with one member dissenting. It presents a new challenge for the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, already beleaguered by corruption investigations and reliant on the support of his ultra-Orthodox coalition partners.

Ultra-Orthodox politicians strongly denounced the ruling and vowed to fight it, but given the yearlong time frame for amending the law, the stability of the governing coalition did not appear to be in imminent danger.

“Those same Torah sons who chose to dedicate their lives to Torah study will continue to study Torah here in the land of Israel, the holy land,” said Aryeh Deri, the interior minister and the leader of the ultra-Orthodox Shas Party, in remarks after the ruling. “No force in the world will stop them,” he said, adding that the court has proved itself “totally disconnected from our heritage and tradition and from our people.”

Mr. Lapid of Yesh Atid (Hebrew for There Is a Future), speaking after the decision was announced, said: “Today we started to turn the ship toward sanity and values. That’s why we are in politics.”

Mr. Netanyahu, he added, could not continue to wriggle out of making a decision. The draft, he said, is “for everyone, not just for suckers who don’t have a party in the coalition. We’re done being suckers. The court decided that we will not have first- and second-class citizens in Israel.”

The policy of open-ended deferment dates to 1949 when Israel’s founding prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, exempted 400 religious students from military service in an effort to restore the tradition of yeshiva scholarship, which had been nearly destroyed during the Holocaust. The issue has since become tendentious, with the number of those who have been exempted by now amounting to tens of thousands.

Those who support wholesale deferment and exemption for Torah students in seminaries argue that Israel needs spiritual preservation as much as physical protection. Critics protest that the fast-growing ultra-Orthodox minority, known in Hebrew as Haredim, or those in awe of God, are not contributing enough to the country’s economy or security, leaving others to bear an unfair burden.

Israel’s ultra-Orthodox sector makes up about 10 percent of the population of more than 8.5 million but it is rapidly increasing, with its members typically marrying young and having large families. Worry and anger has been growing among many Israelis who fear that the economy will become unsustainable in the coming decades without radical change, in part because many ultra-Orthodox men prefer full time Torah study over work and rely on government stipends.

With the ultra-Orthodox parties often serving as coalition kingmakers and serving in most of the governments for more than three decades, they have accrued what many see as disproportionate power, privileges and subsidies.

Far from homogeneous, the Haredi world is made up of different rabbinical courts, and a small but growing number of strictly religious Jews have already been opting for military service or civilian national service as a way of acquiring skills and a path out of poverty and toward integration into the work force. The army has tried to accommodate Haredi recruits. It has even established ultra-Orthodox battalions, allowing those soldiers to combine military service with religious life.

But the more hard-core rabbis, who refuse to recognize the legitimacy of a Jewish state before the arrival of the Messiah, have resisted change. Ultra-Orthodox soldiers have been harassed and abused in their neighborhoods and stormy street protests have erupted in cases where members of the community who did not qualify for an army exemption, perhaps because they were found to be not properly engaged in yeshiva study, have been detained for draft dodging. Religious women are exempted from army service because they adhere to strict rules of modesty. Israel’s Arab minority is also largely exempted.

Tuesday’s ruling was just the latest twist in a long political and legal saga. In 2012, the Supreme Court invalidated a law that had been in force for a decade regulating the exemption from military service for ultra-Orthodox Jews. The law was supposed to encourage ultra-Orthodox enlistment without coercion, but it failed to achieve results and the court deemed it unconstitutional.

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Chareidi Extremism – No Smartphones

 

http://www.theyeshivaworld.com/news/headlines-breaking-stories/1332765/watch-chareidi-extremists-protest-monsey-store-sells-smartphones.html

Chareidi Extremists Protest Monsey Store That Sells Smartphones

No. This isn’t Meah Shearim. This is Monsey, NY on Erev Shabbos Nachamu.

These Chareidi extremists staged a protest outside the “Ping Cellular Store” which is a Verizon Wireless Dealer, located on Route 59, at the “Town Square Mall”, right next to the Evergreen Supermarket.

The group is upset that the establishment is selling smartphones.

A few dozen extremists were part of the protest, as a few dozens counter protesters grabbed their signs and yelled back.

Police were on the scene keeping the two groups apart.

It is not known who this group of extremists belong to.

Fundamentalism of the Haredi Kind – The Haredi Brand of Hamas, Next they Start Teaching Children to Blow Themselves Up…

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http://www.jpost.com/israel-news/politics-and-diplomacy/kill-next-woman-soldier-you-see-says-flier-against-haredi-idf-service-494466

‘Kill next woman soldier you see’ reads flier against haredi IDF service

In a severe escalation of incitement against haredi (ultra-Orthodox) enlistment in the IDF, a flyer was recently distributed in Jerusalem’s ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods that called for the murder of women soldiers, IDF commanders and anyone involved in recruiting haredi men into the army.

Until now, the campaign against haredi IDF service has refrained from calling for violence, sufficing instead with severe incitement and vitriolic verbal attacks against haredi soldiers, officers and recruiters.

The flyer, however, is very different from materials normally printed and distributed by such groups. Some doubt has surfaced as to whether the flyers were part of the central anti-enlistment campaign because its wording is unlike that of standard pashkavillim, public notices commonly used in the haredi community.

It was also not professionally printed, as are regular pashkavillim and anti-haredi military service materials.

The flyer, titled “A Ruling of Jewish Law,” instructs young haredi men who are drafted into the IDF: “If they take you by force to the army of destruction, it is permitted for you and you must do the following actions: Take the rifle that you received and kill any woman soldier you come across so she merits [the precept of] ‘be killed instead of transgressing.’ Kill any [IDF] commander who holds you [in the army] by force. Kill anyone who drafts or entices or helps [to draft haredi men].”

The notice also said that soldiers should kill themselves in order to fulfill the precept of ‘be killed instead of transgressing,’ which in normative Jewish law applies only to instances in which one must murder, engage in forbidden sexual relationships or commit idolatry.

Police are investigating the source of the pamphlet, which incites to violence.

For the last four years, extremists in the ultra-Orthodox community have waged a campaign against haredi men serving in the IDF out of belief that the state is trying to eradicate their religious identity by secularizing them in the army.

Ultra-Orthodox IDF soldiers, officers and officials involved in encouraging haredi enlistment have frequently been subjected to verbal abuse, physical assault, harassment and even death threats. Flyers, posters and booklets inciting against haredi IDF enlistment have been published and disseminated in ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods.

A poster that is certainly part of the anti-enlistment campaign, which was disseminated earlier this week in Bnei Brak and Beit Shemesh, promises as much as NIS 810 to haredi children if they verbally abuse haredi soldiers.

The poster lauded an incident last month in which a haredi child engaged in abusive behavior toward a haredi soldier and was detained by the police.

The poster noted that the child’s behavior was “in keeping with the Torah and the instructions of the leading rabbis who have ruled that one must disgrace [haredi soldiers].”

“Remember pure children! You are on the side of Torah, the side of God, you will be victorious! These evil people will not succeed in destroying your future,” reads the poster, which refers to haredi soldiers as “hardak,” an insult meaning weak-minded haredi.

“But, so that we too will have a portion in your massive merit, we have decided to grant to all children who they dare to put in a police patrol car – because he fulfilled the religious commandment to shout ‘hardaks get out’ – a present or voucher worth NIS 530, a number that has the numeric value of ‘hardaks get out now,’” states the poster.

Any child struck during the arrest, the poster promises, will receive a further award of NIS 290, the numeric value of “fist.”

Only those under the age of 15 qualify for the reward, which will be delivered to the child’s house, according to the poster.

Police have stepped up efforts in recent months to counter assaults against haredi IDF soldiers, conducting arrests and investigations against those behind the incitement campaign.

http://www.jpost.com/israel-news/politics-and-diplomacy/kill-next-woman-soldier-you-see-says-flier-against-haredi-idf-service-494466

Is Desecrating the Shabbat Okay if it Allows the Haredim to Celebrate?

http://ch7.io/c41y

 

Originally Posted on FrumWatch: https://www.facebook.com/frumwatch/
http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/228632

Haredim are not disciplined, they do what they want’

Northern police rabbi says haredi community can’t have it both ways, haredi community forces police to desecrate Shabbat against their will.

Israel Police North Division Rabbi Anshel Friedman on Wednesday morning spoke about the recent complaints about how Israel Police are preparing for the upcoming Lag Baomer celebrations.

Thousands of police officers will be expected to desecrate Shabbat in order to prepare for the influx of thousands of Israelis and tourists who will come to Meron on Saturday night and Sunday.

Lag Baomer is the anniversary of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai’s passing. Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, also known by his initials as “Rashbi” is believed to be the author of the Zohar.

“You want the police to keep Shabbat?” Rabbi Friedman said. “The haredi community is not disciplined, and it does what it wants. For instance, on Friday afternoon, about 10-15 minutes after Shabbat starts, cars carrying haredim travel up the mountain – and the police have to be there to stop it.”

In an interview with the Kol Barama Radio, Rabbi Friedman said the police have “no interest” in working on Shabbat, and in fact want the police officers to rest on Shabbat.

“Until the haredi community, and other religious communities, decide they will not arrive in Meron before Sunday morning, the Israel Police will be forced to desecrate Shabbat in order to be on the scene when they are needed,” he said.

http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/228632

Enslaving Ultra-Orthodox Children through Ignorance

Orthodox ‘Dropouts’ Still Tethered To Faith

http://www.thejewishweek.com/news/new-york/orthodox-dropouts-still-tethered-faith

Orthodox ‘Dropouts’ Still Tethered To Faith
 08/16/16
 Jonathan Mark
 Associate Editor

The Orthodox fascinate and defy the number crunchers. No group is growing so prodigiously: Seventy-four percent of Jewish children in New York are Orthodox and Satmar’s school system is now larger than all but three public school systems in New York State. And yet, of American Orthodoxy’s 530,000 Jews, perhaps more than 10,000 Orthodox Jews have dropped out to varying degrees, according to Nishma Research. Modest numbers, perhaps, but each of those 10,000 likely could tell a story of sadness and disappointment.

Demographer Steven M. Cohen of Hebrew Union College, an adviser to Nishma’s project  — “Starting a Conversation: A Pioneering Survey of Those Who Have Left the Orthodox Community” — said in a statement about the study: “We live in an age of enormous religious fluidity … but there is little quantitative research on Jews who have left Orthodoxy.” This study by Nishma, a new research firm that financed the independent but non-scientific study, is “particularly significant if we are to understand the future of Orthodoxy and American Jewry,” he said.

What becomes of these lapsed Orthodox, referred to in the report and in the vernacular as “off the derech” (road), presuming that there ever was a single derech in the first place? Several OTD memoirs and even suicides speak of severed relationships and estrangement from their communities. Or is that simply the experience of those authors and a tragic few?

As Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach used to say, people left Orthodoxy not because it was too much but because it wasn’t enough. His maxim was verified by Nishma’s study, which reports that most OTDs felt “pushed” off the derech, disappointed by the Orthodox community, rather than “pulled” or seduced by the “outside” world.

Dropouts have always been part of the Orthodox story, but the Pew Research Center’s most definitive 2013 study found dropouts have fluctuated with the generations, the older generation dropping out with far greater frequency than the younger one. Pew states that there was “a surge [78 percent] switching [out of] Orthodox Judaism from the 1950s to the 1970s, followed by a higher retention within Orthodox Judaism in recent decades.” The retention rate is now soaring among young Orthodox adults (aged 18-30); 83 percent of those who were raised Orthodox still are. That means, however, that 17 percent have left.

Well, not all actually left, a finding that casts a fog over any numbers or conclusions. Unlike Christianity, where belief in Jesus provides a fairly definitive line of religious demarcation, Judaism defines religious fidelity not by belief but by action. Religious Christians don’t “somewhat” believe in Jesus, but Nishma found that 45 percent of the dropouts remained “somewhat” Orthodox. It is interesting that 33 percent of OTDs still believed in God, but it is more pertinent to Orthodoxy that 31 percent still kept kosher, 53 percent still lit Shabbos candles, 68 percent still participated in Shabbos meals and 66 percent still felt an attachment to Israel (and the people of Israel). If one keeps Shabbos (to whatever extent) and kosher, when most Jews don’t, how is that person “off the derech”? And yet, in a highly judgmental community, “with Orthodoxy’s exacting standards,” the study noted, “a respondent could consider himself or herself lapsed and still be more religious than most.”

The respondents still wanted Orthodox-literate children; 70 percent send their children to yeshiva or day school, with only 9 percent sending children to non-Orthodox Jewish schools.

And yet, the more liberal Orthodoxy became, the more it disappointed. Modern Orthodoxy, which has done considerably more than any other Orthodox groups on behalf of women’s Torah study, agunot reform, women’s prayer groups, and women’s lay leadership in synagogues and organizations, nevertheless had more Modern Orthodox women dropouts (22 percent) citing the “status of women” as the No. 1 reason they left. Across the quadrants of the survey (chasidic, Chabad, yeshivish and Modern Orthodox), 20 percent of all female dropouts agreed, the status of women was a problem, but only 3 percent of the male OTDs thought so.

In another counterintuitive finding, although Modern Orthodox schools and rabbis are the most liberal in allowing and even encouraging an open exchange of ideas, Modern Orthodoxy had the most dropouts (9 percent) complaining about the “closed atmosphere” of “no questions, unanswered questions, [or] lack of openness.” That was a higher percentage than among the formerly yeshivish (6 percent), who theoretically were living in a more cloistered, ideologically uniform environment. Indeed, none of the divergent educational methods in Orthodoxy proved to be more successful than any other as a bulwark against “general doubts, [or] loss of faith,” a problem shared by dropouts from the chasidic (15 percent), yeshivish (14 percent), Modern Orthodox (11 percent) and Chabad (10 percent) communities.

The goal of surveying those “off the derech” was to “give this group a voice,” said Mark Trencher, Nishma’s founder and lead researcher (and former president of his local Young Israel). He told The Jewish Week that the survey was not scientific, as there was “no hard data” and “no master list” to gauge the OTD population. The survey, therefore, was crafted, said Trencher, as an “opt-in” conversation, with 885 respondents. Most of the respondents were solicited through nonprofits such as Footsteps and Makom (which helped coordinate the survey), agencies dedicated to assisting OTDs.

Although OTD memoirs often discuss family rejection, the survey found that time heals: familial understanding rose from 15 percent, at the time of leaving Orthodoxy, to more than 40 percent after 10 years. Women reported having a harder time with their families than did men. After leaving, a majority (54 percent) of the lapsed Orthodox felt a void in their non-Orthodox communities, with one of the biggest problems being dating and relationships (24 percent). “I haven’t found a community of likeminded individuals,” wrote one respondent, “and don’t feel as connected as I would like in terms of socializing.” Forty-three percent of respondents agreed. Despite the attention given to the difficulty of being Orthodox and single, the so-called “shidduch crisis,” only 5 percent of women and less than 1 percent of men cited it as a significant factor in their decision to leave. Dating on the “outside” could be harder, not easier.

Men were more likely to say that they left because of intellectual issues, with complaints about the “learning and thought processes,” or religion’s absence of “proof.” Women shared those intellectual issues but were more bothered (9 percent) than men (3 percent) by communal “rumors, judging, and gossip.”

LGBTQ Jews left after coming to the conclusion that they would never be accepted within their communities. “My identity as a transgender person was ignored and denied by all the rabbis I reached out to,” said one. “I had many LGBTQ friends and struggled with reconciling that part of my life with my yeshiva life.”

Some OTDs lived a double life, questioning internally, acting Orthodox externally. These “double-lifers,” Nishma concluded, “are not ready to emerge publicly and may never do so,” although 39 percent say they likely will go public, someday.

The survey didn’t indicate that some “double-lifers” happily embrace their ambivalence. Jay Lefkowitz, an attorney, writing in Commentary, explained that he is a practicing Modern Orthodox Jew, though not a believing one, because “I’m a Jet,” like the gang in West Side Story. When you’re Orthodox, you’re “never alone … never disconnected.” Between shul, schools, interests, Shabbos meals, he felt “home with your own” and surely “company’s expected.”

Lefkowitz defined his group as “social Orthodox.” Religious practice, he explained, “is an essential component of Jewish continuity,” so “social Orthodox” Jews “are observant — and not because they are trembling before God.” He puts on tefillin, eats vegetarian in non-kosher restaurants, and yet theological questions “weren’t particularly germane to my life as an observant Jew.”

He’s not alone. The Jewish Week has reported that a substantial number of Modern Orthodox teens might go to shul on Shabbos, but also text on their phones, part of a phenomenon known as “half-Shabbos.” Nevertheless, they consider themselves Orthodox. Others do the same and think of themselves as lapsed.

Lefkowitz attends an Orthodox shul, sends his children to an Orthodox school and sent his daughter to the Israeli army. “I would appear to be the very model of an Orthodox Jew, albeit a modern one,” he writes. In the end, “We behave as Jews so we can belong as Jews … so we will not be disconnected, and we will never be alone.”

Jonathan@jewishweek.org

Read more at http://www.thejewishweek.com/news/new-york/orthodox-dropouts-still-tethered-faith#AalRCMEvGFGk6vEt.99

Raising Money to Deprive non-Religious Parents of their Rights to their Children

Ultra-Orthodox Jews launch million-pound fundraising bid to stop children living with ‘irreligious parents’

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/ultra-orthodox-jews-launch-million-pound-fundraising-campaign-to-fight-converts-child-custody-cases-a7190281.html

Ultra-Orthodox Jews are raising £1m to prevent “pure and holy” children from leaving the strict faith community and living with “irreligious parents” in an “evil culture”, The Independent has learned.

The fundraising drive has been established to fund the legal fees of divorcing parents involved in child custody battles with ex-partners who want to join mainstream society.

The Independent has seen flyers for a fundraising event in the Stamford Hill area of London that call for the community to back the bid, saying: “Rescue The Children Convention: We now need one million pounds and therefore the community is requested to join in with a minimum sum of £500.”

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A copy of the flyer obtained by The Independent

The flyers were accompanied by a letter of support from a local rabbi stating they wish to fight cases involving 17 children: “To our great pain, and our misfortune, our community finds itself in a terrible situation – 17 of our pure and holy children where one of the parents, God rescue them, have gone out into an evil culture, and want to drag their children after them.

“This is a decree of apostasy and this situation has motivated our rabbis who are in Israel… to come here in a personal capacity to increase prayer and to gather money for legal fees, and to achieve this a convention has been organised of prayer and also to collect money.”

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Leaflet distributed in North London, calling for donations ()

The Charedi community is notoriously insular and practices a 19th-century interpretation of the faith. Engagement with the secular world is deeply taboo, Yiddish is spoken as the primary language and arranged marriages are standard practice. Men wear 19th-century Eastern European dress including long black coats and black hats, while married women must dress modestly and cover their hair.

Campaigners and former community members have told The Independent the tactical funding of legal fees tears families apart by denying those wishing to leave the religion access to their children as a punishment for no longer believing in ultra-Orthodox Judaism.

They say the practice unfairly skews child custody battles in favour of the funded parent who remains in the faith groups, rather than enabling custody to be decided on the basis of the best interests of children. Many who join mainstream society have little grasp of the English language or legal system as well as no financial resources, they are severely disadvantaged in court cases and can struggle to understand or articulate their experiences or get adequate legal representation.

A spokesperson for GesherEU, a charity supporting people wishing to leave Charedi communities, told The Independent: “[Child custody cases instigated by a parent leaving the community are] seen as a huge threat to the Charedi community, knowing that people can leave the community and take their children with them and give them a decent secular education and live successfully outside of the community.

“It is very common within the Charedi community for the religious parent to receive full financial support throughout the court process to ensure the children remain within the community. The parent who stays religious will receive fully funded solicitors and barristers with the sole intention of ensuring the children remain resident with the parent who stays in the community.”

“The religious parent will be pressurised into filing for full custody and even lie in court so that the other parent is seen as ‘an unfit parent’ and lose custody/contact with their children. Often parents who leave will experience domestic violence as the religious parent will resort to threats and emotional and physical abuse to try and coerce their spouse to remain married and living within the Charedi community.”

They added that the knowledge the community will try and keep a child with a believing parent acts as a deterrent for anyone questioning their faith and considering leaving: “An event like this is a clear warning to those thinking of leaving as well as a scare tactic: ‘If you leave we have all the money power and resources to fight you and ensure your children stay within the community are alienated from you.’ This does work to some extent and deters many who would otherwise leave knowing they will be facing a legal battle with possibly devastating consequences.”

Last year, the community came under scrutiny when it emerged one school threatened pupils with expulsion if their mothers drove them to school on the grounds that it was “contrary to the rules of religious modesty” for women to drive. An investigation by The Independent earlier this year found more than a 1,000 children in Charedi communities are attending illegal schools where secular knowledge is banned and they learn only religious texts, meaning they leave school with no qualifications and often unable to speak any English.

The Independent has seen details of legal cases brought before British Family Courts in recent years whereby the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community has funded legal fees of a ‘believing’ parent in the hope that they will be given custody of the children above the other parent. In a 2013 ruling, a judge told the court: “The mother and father come from the… Charedi community of ultra-Orthodox Jews. A major reason for the marriage breakdown was that the mother no longer wished to follow the strict tenets of that community. She remains an orthodox Jew but wished for a way of living for herself and the children which allowed greater diversity of educational, personal and economic opportunity. Her wish has come at a price. Her own parents and siblings are no longer in contact with her.

“The financial cost of this litigation is significant. The mother does not receive public funding, and pays the legal costs from her own pocket. The father’s legal costs are paid for by his community and by his parents… This is a grossly disproportionate misdirection of the father’s available financial resources. It is also a wearing down of the mother’s resources. I did not make a costs order on this occasion but, if these or similar disputes are continued, the court may have to intervene with costs orders in future to prevent further financial injustice to the mother.”

A court case last year exposed the extreme pressure individuals feel when leaving the community as a woman sought to divorce her husband after alleging sexual and domestic violence, and gain custody of their daughter. Court records seen by The Independent show the woman was unable to read or write English and was represented on a voluntary basis by lawyers due to lack of funds. It is not known how her ex-husband’s legal fees were funded.

The ruling notes that the woman says she was beaten and raped repeatedly throughout her marriage but “was inhibited from speaking out about her abusive experiences contemporaneously because of the culture in which she was living… where she would have no audience and no sympathy”.

The woman told the court that when the woman attended a GP’s appointment for vaginal pain incurred by rape, her husband attended with her to translate English for her, meaning she was unable to get help there too.

She said that once she did speak out and seek custody of her child, community members spread rumours she had been sexually promiscuous. “A member of the community threw eggs at me for disclosing the violence and allegedly bringing shame upon the community,” she said. The woman was granted custody and left the country soon after to begin a new life with her child.

Imtiaz Shams, co-founder of Faith To Faithless an advocacy group for ex-religious people, told The Independent: “Faith to Faithless has come across many parents for whom leaving their faith has had huge consequences for their relationship with their children. Many have had to “go back into the closet” in terms of their lack of faith, even from their own children, simply to protect this bond.

“Leaving faith can put the financial and social weight of the whole religious community against the parent: it is part of the systematic prejudice faced by non-religious people from religious communities. Leaving the Ultra-Orthodox community can be particularly difficult as these parents can be isolated, may not know what their rights are or have the financial and emotional support required to fight these custody battles.”

He added: “We call on the Government and civil society to do more to protect non-religious parents and their children, who may not have the resources to challenge the discrimination they face.”

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/ultra-orthodox-jews-launch-million-pound-fundraising-campaign-to-fight-converts-child-custody-cases-a7190281.html