Sunday, June 7, 2015

Beth's words of gratitude and appreciation of Rabbi Yehuda Brodie - a rare exception

MY five-year battle with the Austrian courts to win custody of my sons Sammy and Benji from my ex-husband has brought me into contact with so many rabbis around the world.

But I have been shocked and dismayed to discover that, contrary to the picture-book image I was fed as a child, not all those with the title "rabbi" are worthy of veneration.

Rabbi Yehuda Brodie was a rare exception.

It takes more than a title to make a rabbi and Rabbi Brodie, the registrar of Manchester Beth Din who died on Tuesday, personified everything a true rabbi should be.

He knew of me growing up in Manchester and knew my family well.

However, there are others who were closer who chose "not to get involved" as I battled the Austrian judicial system to try to get my boys back.

They distanced themselves from our crisis and made it clear they were not even willing to listen.

The very first person to call me when the news of my plight broke back in 2010 was Rabbi Brodie.

Without a moment's hesitation, he offered to take the next flight out to Vienna to try to mediate and help in my hour of need.

At the time, I didn't yet realise just how far things would escalate and told him there was no need. But looking back, I will never forget such a spontaneous act of courage and kindness.

Since then, he never deserted me.

His steadfast support, encouragement and belief in me got me through many a dark day when I thought nothing could break the spell of disconsolate misery.

Rabbi Brodie had a unique sense of humour and even at my lowest points, he knew just the way to cheer me up and make me see that there is always light ahead.

For every occasion, he had the perfect words, delivered with an inimitable wit that could slice through a stone.

Rabbi Brodie was indeed my rock and I will miss him terribly.

He always offered the sincerest advice and non-judgemental opinions.

A modest man, he shied away from lofty praise. And for his self-deprecation alone, a trait so exceptional in a public figure, I admired him more than perhaps he was even aware.

In every email and meeting we had, he called me a heroine. But for me, he was the real hero.

A natural leader, he didn't need to command respect.

His actions and unassuming manner unquestionably earned him the highest esteem.

I always wished my boys Sammy and Benji could meet the man who unconditionally fought so much for them and learn of his greatness first-hand.

Unfortunately, that isn't to be. But if I can instil in them even a fraction of the values and lessons Rabbi Brodie exemplified, I will be profoundly proud.

The giant who made a massive imprint on our lives leaves a towering legacy which will always be remembered.

Beth Schlesinger (Alexander),

(formerly of Manchester),



  1. Battle with the Austrian courts to win custody? So its about a custody battle between two parents?

  2. @David - are you asking whether the issue is whether you like chocolate or vanilla ice cream?!

    No it is not simply which parent has custody - but rather what is in the best interest of the children.

  3. As in virtually all custody battles, both parents will claim to be the better parent. Often in such battles, mud is flung in public in one's quest in the battle of public opinion.

  4. The cynical David is here again - and very fast off the mark too! David - this is a letter of gratitude for a man whose behavior in the modern rabbinical world was apparently quite exceptional. Have you nothing more constructive to add the humane Rabbi Brodie's life and attributes?

  5. @David - your crude reductionism totally ignores the facts that have been carefully presented for many months on this blog and elsewhere.

    I sure you could do a similar type of analysis in describing the disagreement between the Palestinians and Israeli - as a fight for control of real estate.

    In short David - if you have something intelligent to say we would love to hear it - this type of comment is nonsense and sheds no light on the matter.

  6. I think the underlying message, which portrays most in the rabbinical field as lacking the care that one would expect from them, should be noticed. It may be, that Rabbis, to most part, see their occupation as a job and their status as privilege.
    I believe that if there is a distrust of those in the rabbinical field it may be because of this notion.

  7. Well David (Schlesinger) it didn’t take you long to start
    screaming and yet again show your ignorance and offensiveness and as for the mudslinging you refer to you have done more than your share of that. This is an obituary to a wonderful Rav who
    was head of the Beth Din in one of the most respected communities in the
    world. An honest decent compassionate man and a Rav who personified
    everything a rabbi should be unlike the many ‘Rabonnim’ in Vienna who continue to turn
    their backs on the suffering of an innocent young mother and her children. David, I hear it was a beautiful afternoon in Vienna don’t
    you think you would have been better off
    spending time with the children you ‘fought so hard for’ with the help of course of the crooked JudgeThau instead of sitting on the computer ready to
    pounce. Beth has written a beautiful piece.

  8. Listen David, a lot of things you are writing are not true. As a parent you always have the right to ask for more time to spend with your children so you are able to bond with them. You even have the right to ask for full custody. Things change. If the judge thought that the mother was mentally ill, if that really was the reason why is she not allowed to be reevaluated? The judge hates the mother (because she is a foreigner and talks to the media) and misuses her power. She decides that the mother gets 26 overnight visits a year and the father 339 (after 3 years). The judge really doesn't care about the children. She has 200 cases a year, every year. It is her job. She has the power. The father will never ever change and just loves what is happening. He just wanted jewish children and nothing more. I read a lot of stories about international custody battles and custody is always given to the parent of the country in which the child at that time lives. That is easy to do (see case Oliver Denmark/Austria). In cases where a father disappears before or after the child is born and after 3/4/ 5 years he wants to see his child he gets visitation rights. If the mother is being difficult he only gets more hours/days with his children. So why is in this case the mother not allowed to see her kids more often?

  9. " The judge hates the mother (because she is a foreigner and talks to the media) and misuses her power. "

    THIS description of a woman judge in the Vienna family court may be apt but if so, causes readers to ask whether Austrian Minister for Justice Brandstetter is aware of what appears to be going on in the 2nd district court. The answer can only be that he either doesn't or that he doesn't care. If a judge favors an Austrian citizen who is quite clearly mentally ill over an EU citizen from another member state, there is one word that people in democracies can use for this: BIAS.

    This is a crime for which a judge should find herself before a disciplinary committee! And .....FIRED. To have awarded children to a father whose sociopathic characteristics are extremely obvious is irresponsible, shameful and absolutely unprofessional.

  10. Lets state facts as they are then, it doesn't take much for some people's sour nature to show through and they show themselves up exactly for what they are time and time over. I have heard of people speaking ill of the dead, I have heard of people speaking ill of the living, lying about them and slandering them, but I have never heard of anyone dismantling an obituary before. Shame on you


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