Monday, July 20, 2015

Schlesinger Twins: Rabbis protest Michael's spiteful mistreatment of Beth and Twins

Updated to include additional signatures
Re. Beth Alexander

We have followed the case of Beth Alexander for some time and have had the opportunity to hear from her about the dreadful and unnecessary pain that she has suffered following her divorce. In the initial stages of Beth’s separation, her husband was evicted by the police after allegations that he had been violent. The Austrian court only allowed him restricted and supervised access to his children.

Yet many of us have followed the Kafkaesque decisions made by subsequent courts which have granted full custody to Beth’s ex-husband with only limited visiting rights. Beth is naturally distraught over the lack of care being given to her children. They are looked after by paid help who speak little German or English.

Beth is also concerned for the health of her children, especially after dental procedures were performed without her knowledge to remove teeth from both of the boys. What is more perverse is that on top of the injustice in denying Beth’s children proper access to their mother, Beth has had to pay up to 50EUR for each 2-minute handover, failing which, she would have been unable to see her children. This is in addition to the child maintenance she must pay as mandated by the court.

To add insult to injury, Beth finds that the Austrian Jewish community and certain members of the Austrian rabbinate have largely shunned her. She has been told by individuals in the community to keep quiet or go back to England and forget about her children. While we recognise that the court’s decisions must be respected, we are profoundly disappointed that the Austrian Jewish community and leadership have not adequately supported a vulnerable and defenceless young woman, who has been thrust into this intolerable situation against her will.

We are also deeply concerned that Dr. Schlesinger has been given opportunities to make life easier for Beth and the children, and yet appears to have deliberately ignored them. This gives the impression that his children are merely pawns in a spiteful game to make life for Beth a living hell. We therefore request that Dr. Schlesinger takes the following steps to alleviate Beth’s situation for the sake of Sammy and Benji.
• To accept the offer of a simple and inexpensive handover of the children, coordinated by the Chief Rabbi of Austria or others within the community.
• To comply with the Court’s access orders in full.
• To stop cancelling access visits to Beth in defiance of the courts.
• To accept the generous offer of Rabbi Hofmeister to host Beth and the boys for one Shabbat meal a month with immediate effect.
We wish to send the strongest message possible to Dr. Schlesinger that his behaviour is a disgrace and our patience has run out.

Beth Alexander is a warm, kind-natured and generous person who deserves to play a full and active role in bringing up her children. We hope and pray that the natural maternal love that she has for them will ultimately break through the effects of this disgraceful injustice that she and her children have been forced to endure.

We therefore join the Chief Rabbi, Ephraim Mirvis and our other colleagues who are working to help address the best interests of Beth and her children, and call upon other rabbonim and communal leaders to join us in our endeavours.

Rabbi Danny Bergson, London
Rabbi Boruch Boudilovsky, London
Rabbi Alex Chapper, London
Rabbi Zvi Cohen, London
Rabbi Boruch Davis, London
Rabbi Elchonon Feldman, London
Rabbi Yisroel Fine, London
Rabbi Dr. Moshe Freedman, London
Rabbi Pinchas Hackenbroch, London
Rabbi Chaim Kanterovitz, London
Rabbi Dov Kaplan, London
Rabbi James Kennard, Melbourne, Australia
Rabbi Anthony Knopf, Cape Town, South Africa
Rabbi Marc Levene, London
Rabbi David Mason, London
Rabbi Alon Meltzer, Canberra, Australia
Rabbi Joel Portnoy, Manchester
Rabbi Yosef Richards, London
Rabbi Shaul Robinson, New York, USA
Rabbi Daniel Roselaar, London
Rabbi Meir Salasnik, London
Rabbi Arnold Saunders, Manchester
Rabbi Zvi Solomons, Reading
Rabbi Gary Wayland, London
Rabbi Nissan Wilson, London
Rabbi Mordechai Wollenberg, Liverpool

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