Saturday, January 24, 2015

YWN posts a seriously flawed translation of MK Gafni claiming he said that those who work are not Chareidi

The following seriously flawed translation of an interview with MK Gafni published by Yeshiva World News  was sent to me. It mistakenly claims that MK Gafni says  that you can't be a chareidi and work. Recording of interview is here
===this is an excerpt from YWN incorrect  translation=====

Yeshiva World News Breaking Headlines
Speaking with Mordechai Lavi of Kol Berama Radio on Tuesday morning 29 Teves, MK Moshe Gafne explained from his perspective there is no such thing as ‘working chareidi’.
Following is excerpts from the radio interview which lasted over 20 minutes.
I do not accept the categorization. There are those who opt to leave yeshiva and join the working community.
Are they called chareidim?
No they are not. I do not accept this. It does not exist. One who does not learn in kollel and works has left.

Here is the version published in the Hebrew Mishpacha where MK Gafni clearly says that Chareidim are not defined on the basis of whether they work or learn in Kollel - but rather their allegiance to gedolim

 My translation of MK Gafni's words 
....There is no such thing as "working chareidim" There are simply people who are chareidim. A person who educates his children the obey the gedoim is charedi. Why should it make a difference whether he works or not
============================This is Mishpachah's transcript of the interview======

מה רוצים מכם מי שמכונים יהחרדים העובדים?'
"כל הסיפור הזה של חרדים עובדים הוא פיקציה. שקר. תעלול שהתפתח מעבר לכל פרופורציה בגלל אינטרסים צרים ומקומיים. אין דבר כזה חרדי עובד יש חרדי. נקודה. מי שמחנך את הילדים שלו לציית לגדולי ישראל הוא חרדי. מה זה משנה אם הוא עובד או לא? הרי ידגל התורהי הוקמה על ידי אנשים עובדים. כל המוסדות החרדיים הוקמו על ידי חרדים עובדים, מה זו הבדיחה הזו? את מי אני מייצג אם לא את העובדים?"

אתה מתעלם מבעיות של קבלה למוסרות שיש בעיקר לאנשים שעובדים.
"אני בכלל לא מתעלם. יש בעיות קשות. חלק מהבעיות אי אפשר לפתור. צריך להקים מוסדות שיתאימו לכל הסוגים באוכלוסייה, וזה מה שאנחנו עושים. השבוע נחנך מוסד לימודים חדש באלעד שמיועד לציבור הזה וישבתי עם נציגי אותו ציבור על מוסד דומה בפתח תקווה, אני חושב שצריך לסייע להם באמת וזה בדיוק מה שאנחנו עושים.

"אני רוצה לחדד נקודה נוספת: בסופו של דבר, גם מי שיצא מהכולל בשל אילוצים כאלה ואחרים,יודע שעולם התורה זה חוד החנית של העם היהודי. הם האליטה שלנו. להם אנחנו צריכים לדאוג. אני בטוח שכל אחד מאתנו מוכן לוותר לא מעט בשביל שעולם התורה ימשיך לפרוח. בסוף-בסוף, אנחנו צריכים לדאוג לעולם התורה, לאברכים, לעמלי התורה".

Commonsense morality and Japanese hostility towards Japanese hostages facing beheading

CNN   Fighting back tears, Junko Ishido stood before dozens of television cameras, just hours before an apparent ISIS deadline to execute her son, Kenji Goto -- one of two Japanese hostages who appeared in a shocking propaganda video days before.

One of the first statements she made, before making a direct plea to ISIS to spare her son's life, was an apology to the Japanese people.

"Thank you for your great kindness and I apologize for the tremendous inconvenience and trouble that my son has caused," she said.

The apology is understandable in the context of Japanese society, says Jeff Kingston, director of Asian Studies at Temple University's Tokyo campus.

"In Japan when you inconvenience people, it's important to respect them and ask for forgiveness," Kingston says.

Ishido conveyed several times how badly she feels about her son's capture causing trouble for the Japanese government and alarm for its people. 

To her, it doesn't matter that her son was likely trying to rescue his friend and fellow hostage Haruna Yukawa. It doesn't matter than he has been praised by friends, colleagues, and strangers for reporting sensitively from war zones like Syria with strong, respectful determination. 

If she were to say such things publicly in Japan, she could be perceived as a selfish individual who touts the righteousness of her son. [...]

In 2004, three young Japanese hostages were released by militants in Iraq. Instead of being welcomed home, they were shunned for "causing trouble" for Japan. The former hostages, including one who was in Iraq helping children before her capture, were even billed by the government for their airfare.

"They got the frostiest unwelcome you can imagine. It was essentially government-encouraged bullying," Kingston says -- adding the trauma of their return was in some ways worse than their capture. [...]

The Orthodox Sex Guru's crusade for the acceptance of pleasure

How widespread sexual aversion is among ultra-Orthodox women is impossible to say, and the question is made especially difficult because there is a host of movements and sects with varying statutes and customs. But there is an erotic ideal that all these cultures share. After a young woman marries — often, like the Satmar wife Marcus told me about, to a man she has met and spoken with only once before the wedding — she’s supposed to feel that sex is a blessing, a union full of Shekinah, of God’s light, not just a painful or repellent reproductive chore. Quietly, rabbis refer struggling wives to Marcus’s care. Her task is to instill desire in them. [...]

Below her brown bangs, Marcus’s eyes fill with tears sometimes when she talks about how Orthodox Judaism — and above all the most restrictive branches of Haredi Orthodoxy — can quash female eros by imbuing a physical shame and a nearly apocalyptic sexual terror, by teaching that if the laws of tzniut, of modesty, are broken, calamity will come. One Haredi rabbi I met likened eros to “nuclear energy”: Sex could bring disaster to the world, but, he said, “the careful regulation” of it can connect a couple to God and beckon “transcendent experience.” [...]

One morning at the burnished round table where she talks with her patients, Marcus handed me a bride’s manual given out by kallah teachers. This particular book was written for the modern Orthodox; it is relatively progressive. The clitoris, for instance, is mentioned twice. Even so, the overwhelming emphasis is on the wife’s responsibility to keep the relationship on the right side of the law. The Talmud “indicates that during marital relations, the husband may not look at or kiss the wife’s makom ervah,” her private place, the manual warns. The lights should be off, a sheet should cover the couple, the position should be missionary — the wife is charged with keeping sex spiritual, keeping it chaste.

If she doesn’t, a parable in the introduction implies, God’s Chosen may “fall over the edge” of a cliff. “And that book,” Marcus reminded me, “is modern.” Her Haredi women seem to feel that their bedrooms are all but laced with Talmudic “trip wires,” she said, where one wrong move can cause destruction. [...]

The logic of rabbinical rulings can be counterintuitive and confusing to Marcus, and the decrees vary from rabbi to rabbi, but a line seems to be drawn between the physical and the psychological. A vibrator can be viewed merely as a piece of machinery to be applied medically to the body; racy literature or lingerie might damage the mind. (To finesse her way around the prohibition against reading soft pornography, Marcus once hired a cousin who majored in creative writing to produce some Haredi supersoft porn, and soon she was handing women a printout culminating in a Hasidic husband’s running his hands over his wife’s fully clothed hips and giving her a “meaningful kiss.” But the tepid scene didn’t seem to do much for her patients.) [...]

“I tell them our values are the same,” Marcus said about winning over her Haredi patients, “but in a way, I’m being disingenuous.” In addition to working one on one with women, she holds seminars for kallah teachers. She is on a kind of crusade, a fledgling effort to carry new ideas about eros into Orthodoxy, to educate the educators, to persuade them to give brides an abundance of detail about the anatomy of pleasure, about orgasm. [...]

Friday, January 23, 2015

Colorado baker faces complaint for refusing anti-gay message on cake

A dispute over a cake in Colorado raises a new question about gay rights and religious freedom: If bakers can be fined for refusing to serve married gay couples, can they also be punished for declining to make a cake with anti-gay statements? 

A baker in suburban Denver who refused to make a cake for a same-sex wedding is fighting a legal order requiring him to serve gay couples even though he argued that would violate his religious beliefs.

But now a separate case puts a twist in the debate over discrimination in public businesses, and it underscores the tensions that can arise when religious freedom intersects with a growing acceptance of gay couples.

Marjorie Silva, owner of Denver's Azucar Bakery, is facing a complaint from a customer alleging she discriminated against his religious beliefs.

According to Silva, the man who visited last year wanted a Bible-shaped cake, which she agreed to make. Just as they were getting ready to complete the order, Silva said the man showed her a piece of paper with hateful words about gays that he wanted written on the cake. He also wanted the cake to have two men holding hands and an X on top of them, Silva said.
She said she would make the cake, but declined to write his suggested messages on the cake, telling him she would give him icing and a pastry bag so he could write the words himself. Silva said the customer didn't want that. [...]

Religious women hold trailblazing conference on family sexuality

Some 150 religious Jewish women, most of them wives of rabbis affiliated with the Tzohar organization, gathered this week in Holon to talk about sexuality. 

The event, entitled “Guf Rishon” (First Person) was the first of its kind in Israel. Spearheaded not by the rabbis of Tzohar – which seeks to promote Jewish identity from a religious Zionism standpoint – but their wives, the gathering allowed these Orthodox women to discuss their own sexuality and that of their families in a public, supportive atmosphere.

“Sexuality is a topic that we should begin to address starting from a very young age. We need to make sure it is treated as a legitimate issue and educate our children accordingly,” said Tzofia Hirschfeld, who moderated the event. “We were pleased to find the openness of the participants, their willingness to talk about it and their acknowledgment of its importance.” [...]

הר נוף: תושבים נגד עולה שהורשע בפדופיליה Yona Weinberg

 For background see previous post on Yona Weinberg
יונה וינברג הורשע בארצות הברית בניצול מיני של קטינים ונידון למאסר. שכניו מתנגדים לכך שיקבל אזרחות ישראלית: "מדובר בפדופיל שהוגדר מסוכן לציבור". עורך דינו: "הוא שילם את חובו לחברה ורוצה לבנות את חייו מחדש"
יונה (ג'ייסון) וינברג, יהודי בן 37 עשה באחרונה עלייה לישראל וקבע את מקום מושבו בשכונת הר נוף בירושלים. לכאורה, עוד עולה חדש, אולם שכניו גילו כי מדובר בלא פחות מאדם שהורשע במעשי פדופילה בארצות הברית ואף ישב בכלא. "מדובר בפדופיל שהוגדר על ידי הרשויות בארצות הברית מסוכן לציבור. מאז שהגיע לשכונה אנחנו חיים בפחד מתמיד ודואגים לילדינו. אסור שינצל את יהדותו כדי לקבל אזרחות". אומרים שכניו.

וינברג (37), שעד לא מזמן גר בניו יורק, הורשע במהלך שנת 2009 בעבירות של ניצול מיני של שני ילדים בני 13 ונידון ל-13 חודשי מאסר. תמונתו ושמו מפורסמים ברשימת עברייני המין של הרשויות בארצות הברית, והוא הוגדר כבעל מסוכנות לציבור בדרגה 3 - הגבוהה ביותר, ומשמעותה שקיימת סבירות גבוהה ביותר שהוא יחזור על מעשיו וקיים סיכון לציבור. מאז עלייתו לארץ הוא מתגורר בשכונת הר נוף בירושלים ושוהה בישראל במעמד תייר. כעת הגיש וינברג בקשה לקבל אזרחות כ"עולה חדש".

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Sheldon Silver, New York Assembly Leader, Is Arrested on Graft Charges

NY Times    The speaker of the New York State Assembly, Sheldon Silver, was arrested on federal corruption charges on Thursday and accused of using the power of his office for more than a decade to secure millions of dollars in bribes and kickbacks and then covering up his schemes, according to court documents.

Mr. Silver, a Democrat from the Lower East Side of Manhattan who has served as speaker for more than two decades, is accused of a range of corrupt dealings that capitalized on his official position. They include using his position to obtain corrupt payments misrepresented as referral fees from a law firm, funneling state research funds and other benefits to a doctor who in return referred asbestos claims to the law firm where the speaker worked, and secretly helping real estate developers win tax breaks.

In recent years, a steady parade of lawmakers in Albany have been charged with corruption, and the complaint against Mr. Silver outlines a capital culture rife with back-room dealing, where money and influence shape public policy for the benefit of private agendas. [...]

The complaint maintains that for more than a decade, Mr. Silver devised a scheme “to induce real estate developers with business before the state” to use a real estate law firm controlled by a lawyer who had once worked as Mr. Silver’s counsel. That lawyer, according to the complaint, orchestrated payments to the speaker for referrals to the firm.

The complaint, referring to the personal injury firm, Weitz & Luxenberg, also said that “there is probable cause to believe that Silver received approximately $4 million in payments characterized as attorney referral fees solely through the corrupt use of his official position.” [...]

תדהמה בלייקווד: הרב הבכיר יילך לכלא


תדהמה בלייקווד: הרב פישל טוד, הממונה על הרבנים הצבאיים בצבא ארה"ב, ומבכירי העסקנים ובעלי החסד בלייקווד, נידון בבית המשפט הפדראלי בניו ג'רזי ל-46 חודשי מאסר, ולשלוש שנות מאסר על תנאי.

הרב הורשע על חלקו בפרשת ההונאה הגדולה שביצע אליהו וינשטיין - איש העסקים החרדי תושב לייקווד.

Schlesinger twins: Smearing Beth's reputation and intimidation of those who try to help

This is testimony from a member of a prominent Viennese family - who unfortunately is afraid (with good cause) to have her identity known. 

October 11th 2011

I write as a woman , mother and friend of Ms. Beth Schlesinger, because it hurts that she is completely alone because of lies being spread about her. However, I post anonymously because I do not want the same thing to happen to me that happened to two other ladies in the Jewish community .

The two ladies were contacted by a third party on behalf of family Schlesinger, with the request that they should stop "helping" Mrs. S.

One of these women is actually friends with Mrs. S. . The other lady knows Mrs. Schlesinger only as an acquaintance. This person was accused of giving Mrs. Schlesinger financial support and claimed that only through this help did Mrs Schlesinger succeed in getting the court to agree to longer visits with her children at home in September 2011. A member of the Schlesinger family even (falsely) accused this lady of paying for lawyers who will ensure that " Beth gets the kids now. "

The current situation that Mrs Schlesinger doesn't have her children and even the visits with her children have not taken place as specified , is in itself alone deeply sad and shocking. Adding 'salt to the wounds' is not only cruel but purely malignant.

There are rumors going around that have completely isolated Mrs Schlesinger from the Jewish community - portraying her as some kind of terrible mother or even a monster. For example, it would be dangerous to leave the children in her care , she must see the children only under constant supervision and should she be granted unsupervised access, the children would be in danger.  

Another example, she brought her children to a psychiatric hospital and implored them to take the children from her because she could no longer cope with them. Even though I do not know the details of this dispute, I find it laughable to spread such stories. Mrs Schlesinger is fighting to her last breath for custody of the children, why would she do such a thing (if these malicious rumors were true)? Unfortunately, however, most of the members of the community believe these lies and think Mrs. Schlesinger is evil.

If the children's father's family really wished to " protect " the children then such malicious rumors and lies would not be necessary (to spread around). Obviously, this is not about the welfare of the children but purely a way of punishing the mother.

The Jewish concept of slavery and morality?

Moshe Ahron has asserted that slavery is immoral and always was so but that we have advanced over our ancestors who were not aware of its immorality. 
Here is what I mean. The Torah didn't create slavery. Slavery existed before the Torah was given on Har Sinai. The Torah dealt with the situation as it was - slavery already existed. The Torah improved this bad situation by regulating slavery with the goal that slavery would eventually be eradicated.
To be clear, slavery was always immoral, but slavery was never the Torah's fault, the Torah was trying to improve the situation of the slave by regulating it.
Had the Torah outlawed slavery from day one, perhaps it would have been too difficult for people to comply, so Hashem didn't do that. This is similar to the Eishes Yefas Toar, where Rashi says that the Torah couldn't prohibit marrying her as the Torah won't prohibit what people can't refrain from doing.
However as can be seen from the following sources there is no criticism of slavery in the Bible, Talmud or Rabbinic literature and the institution of slavery as described in the Torah basically ceased to exist in Talmudic times. I think a more reasonable assertion that better fits the halachic sources is that slavery is clearly immoral in our present society - but that in the ancient world it was not (especially with the conditions the Torah required compared with secular law). It is not the superiority of our moral sense over that of our ancestors but the change in society which is the critical element. 

In sum, Moshe Ahron's view is very problematic in stating that the Torah itself accepts an immoral practice. While the Rambam does states something like this - in Moreh Nevuchim regarding animal sacrifices (which contradicts his Mishna Torah) - he clearly does not say any such thing regarding slavery. Moshe Ahrons attempt to assert a similar judgment regarding divorce laws in Shulchan Aruch and Poskim is similarly flawed.

See also "Biblical Slavery and Morality"
See Hakirah - Biblical view of Slavery - Then and Now

Professor Judah Rosenthal (The Slavery Controversy and Judaism – Conservative Judaism 31:3 pages 69)

The structure of ancient society was built on slavery, and the old social order ofIsrael was no exception. The Torah, however, distinguishes itself by demanding a humane treatment of slaves. It often repeats the admonition not to forget that the Israelites were once slaves in Egypt.! It is the obligation of the master to let the slave rest on the day when he himself is resting'' and it is forbidden to maim a slave. If a master maims a slave he has to let him go free." There does not exist in all the codes of the ancient world a more humane law than the one which forbids turning over a fugitive slave to his master.  The Hammurabi Code of Laws, unlike the Torah, prescribes that a man who does not turn over a fugitive slave to his master is to be punished by death."
The Talmud, too, contains many laws demanding a humane treatment of slaves. Maimonides (Hilchos Avadim 9:8) sums up the attitude of Rabbinic Judaism towards slavery in the following words:
It is permitted to work a slave with rigor. Though such is the role, it is the quality of piety and the way of wisdom that a man be merciful and pursue justice and not make his yoke heavy upon the slave or distress him, and give him to eat and to drink of all foods and drinks.
The Sages of old were wont to let the slave partake of every dish that they themselves ate of and to give the meal of the cattle and of the slaves precedence over their own. Is it not said: As the eyes of slaves unto the hand of their master, as the eyes of a female servant unto the hand of her mistress (Psalms 123:2)?
Thus also the master should not disgrace them by hand or by word, because scriptural law has delivered them only unto slavery and not unto disgrace. Nor should he heap upon the slave oral abuse and anger, but should rather speak to him softly and listen to his claims. So, it is also explained in the good paths of Job, in which he prided himself.
Cruelty and effrontery are not frequent except with gentiles. The children of our father Abraham, however, i.e., the Israelites, upon whom the Holy One, blessed be He, bestowed the favor of the Law and laid upon them statutes and judgments, are merciful people who have mercy upon all.
Thus also it is declared by the attributes of the Holy One, blessed be He, which we are enjoined to imitate: And His mercies are over all His works (Psalms 145:9).
Furthermore, whoever has compassion will receive compassion, as it is said: And He will show thee mercy, and have compassion upon thee, and multiply thee (Deuteronomy 13:18).

We do not find either in the Bible or in Rabbinic literature a prohibition against slavery or a negative attitude towards slavery as a social institution. Judaism did not consider slavery a social evil nor did it consider a slave owner or slave trader to be a sinner. Slavery was accepted as part of the social order.

Elon, Menachem. "Human Dignity and Freedom." Encyclopaedia Judaica. Ed. Michael Berenbaum and Fred Skolnik. 2nd ed. Vol. 9. Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA, 2007. 585-588. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 22 Jan. 2015. Document URL

Human Dignity and Freedom in Jewish Tradition

Human dignity and freedom are fundamental values of the Torah and the rabbinic literature. The Torah states that man was created "in the image of God": "And God created man in his image; in the image of God He created him" (Gen. 1:27). Respect for the Divine image in man serves as an important source in the Torah for the preservation of human dignity. The Torah states the following concerning a person who has sinned and is liable to the death penalty: "If a man is guilty of a capital offense and is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, you must not let his corpse remain on the stake overnight, but must bury him the same day. For an impaled body is an affront to God and you shall not defile the land which the Lord your God is giving you to possess" (Deut. 21:22–23). The Sages expound these verses: R. Meir asks – what is the meaning of the words "an impaled body is an affront to God"? This can be likened to two identical twin brothers, one of whom became king over the entire world while the other went out to pursue highway robbery. After a while, the latter was caught and crucified, and passersby seeing the body said "the king himself has been crucified!" This is the meaning of the words: "for an impaled body is an affront to God."

 The principle of human dignity even requires respecting the dignity of criminal offenders. The Torah imposes a penalty on a person who steals an ox and later slaughters or sells it, in the amount of five times the value of the ox, while for stealing a sheep under similar circumstances, one is required to pay only four times its value (Ex. 21:37). The difference between the fine imposed for stealing an ox and that for stealing a sheep is explained by the Sages as follows: "R. Johanan b. Zakkai states: The Holy One blessed be He is mindful of the dignity of mankind. For [stealing] an ox, which walks on its [own] feet, the payment is fivefold; for [stealing] a sheep, which has to be carried on one's shoulders, the payment is fourfold" (Mekhilta de-R. Yishmael, Mishpatim 13). The difference between the fines stems from the sense of shame suffered by the thief in the case of the stolen sheep, which is usually carried away on his shoulders. Hence, the Torah was more lenient in the case of stealing a sheep than with stealing an ox, in which case the thief can simply lead the ox to his home and need not demean himself by carrying it on his shoulders.< The origin of human rights in Judaism lies in the fundamental notion of man's creation in the image of God. This basic axiom is the origin, not only of a person's right to dignity and freedom, but also of man's duty to protect his own dignity and freedom. This principle is given clear expression in a fundamental rule stated by the amora Rav: "A worker can withdraw from service even in the middle of the working day… for it is written (Lev. 25:55): 'for the children of Israel are My slaves [i.e., whom I took out of the land of Egypt'] – and not slaves to other slaves" (BK 116b; BM 10a). According to this law, an employee who hired himself out for an entire working day may withdraw his agreement in the middle of the day (and in such case only receives payment for the time he worked – see *Labor Law ), by virtue of the principle that a person's obligation to work for another person, even if he agreed to do so out of his own volition, constitutes a violation of that person's freedom, and a type of slavery. The principle that a person's subservience to God requires that he not be subservient to another human being receives expression in the principle of the Hebrew slave.

According to the Torah, a person may be compelled to work for another individual if he is convicted of theft and is unable to pay his fine, or if he is in a state of absolute poverty and sells himself to another person. In both these cases, his term of service is limited to a maximum of six years, and the goal of this period, during which the slave's employer owes numerous duties towards his slave, is to facilitate the rehabilitation of the offender, who would otherwise remain homeless, as an alternative to imprisonment or remaining on the streets without a roof over his head. According to the Torah, a slave who refused to go free at the end of his term would have his ear pierced by his master using an awl, and would thereafter remain a perpetual slave to his master (Ex. 21:6). The Sages questioned the underlying principle behind this commandment of piercing the slave's ear: "R. Johanan b. Zakkai was asked by his disciples: Why, of all limbs, was the ear [of the slave who refused to go free] chosen to be pierced? He replied: 'The ear that heard at Mount Sinai: "You shall have no other gods but for Me" (Ex. 20:2), and rejected the yoke of the kingdom of Heaven, and in its stead accepted the yoke of a human being; the ear that heard at Mount Sinai (Lev. ad. loc.) "for unto Me the children of Israel are servants" and yet this person went and acquired for himself another master; therefore, let his ear come and be pierced because he disregarded that which his ear heard'" (TJ Kid. 1.2).

The slave is punished for having waived his right to freedom. Perpetual enslavement to another person involves a kind of idolatry. As explained by the aforesaid words of the Sages, the first commandment states: "I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods but Me" (Ex. ad loc.). This commandment exhorts a person to be free, and he cannot release himself from this obligation, neither in favor of an idol, nor in favor of another human being. The slave, the worker and the master, are all servants of God, before whom all creatures are equal. Therefore no person is entitled to be the slave of another person, when the latter himself is merely a servant of God. Even this institution of a Hebrew slave, which is in essence an act of hire for a limited period for the purposes of rehabilitation, has not been practiced, according to all opinions, for close to two thousand years, and this too is compatible Page 587

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Schlesinger Twins: One Jewish Mother's International Custody Fight

Forward  In an apartment in the Austrian capital, Beth Alexander is deleting hundreds of photos of her 5-year-old twin boys from Facebook.

In one picture, Benjamin and Samuel are laughing as they hold a toy. In another they are waiting to be served lunch in their native Vienna.

The ordinary snapshots are the kind uploaded by countless mothers all over the world. Yet Alexander, a British-born modern Orthodox mother in her 30s, is barred from displaying them by order of an Austrian court, which in November ruled in favor of her ex-husband’s motion claiming the photos violated the twins’ privacy.

“Removing these pictures is painful to me,” Alexander told JTA this month in an interview via Skype. “They allow my family back in Britain to sort of keep in touch with the boys and they show that despite all that has been said about me, I’m a good mother and the children are happy when they are with me.”

The injunction is the latest in a series of legal setbacks that have left Alexander with restricted access to her boys and declared barely fit to be a mother – rulings that have led to mounting international criticism and claims of a colossal miscarriage of justice.

Leaders of the British and Austrian Jewish communities have spoken out about what they consider to be a highly unusual case that has unfairly limited Alexander’s maternal rights. Her case even made it to the floor of the British Parliament, where lawmakers last year described it as a Kafkaesque situation that has wrongly maligned Alexander as mentally ill and an unfit mother.

“I have no reason to assume that Alexander is in any way incapable of being a mother,” Schlomo Hofmeister, a prominent Viennese rabbi who knows the Schlesinger case well, told JTA. Hofmeister said it was tragic that the children were deprived of equal access to their mother and called on both parents to “find a time-sharing arrangement in the interest of these children, who are suffering.” [...]