Tuesday, September 12, 2023

Schlesinger Twins: Rebbitzen Rosenberg comes to Vienna community to help Beth and her children

 Guest post by Rebbetzin Miriam Rosenberg. 2014

The Rebbetzin is the wife of Rav Sariel Rosenberg from Bnei Brak -  a major talmid chachom and posek who is a member of the beis din of Rav Karelitz. She is very actively involved in helping woman who have lost the custody of their children. She has visited Vienna a number of times and spent much time investigating Beth's case and she was appalled at the lack of support for  Beth as well as how the twins have suffered. I asked her to write a guest post of what she has found.

Below is her 5 page letter translated in full from the Hebrew she sent me for posting here. In the first part she describes the tragic story of Yael which led her to Vienna to raise money for lawyers and where she found out about Beth. She describes in great detail the great miscarriage of justice and the reasons the community - which is known for it kindness and generosity - has failed to intervene.

Fifteen years ago my righteous daughters were cruelly taken from Bnei Brak to Italy , where they were systematically turned against their religion. My eldest daughter was thirteen years old and her sister was nine years old. They received an excellent Jewish education in the wonderful schools of Beis Yaacov. But they were pushed to the ultimate heresy.My story was serialized in AMI MAGAZINE and then published as a book titled:TO MY DAUGHTERS WITH LOVE / GITTY GOLD

For the past fifteen years I have been providing  physical and emotional support to women abused by their former husbands, powerful and wealthy men , who try and sometimes succeed in gaining custody of their             children for various reasons; mainly manipulating the courts in the worst possible way; claiming their wives are insane or lack parenting skills.Time after time I flew places to try and prove women innocent, in most cases there have never been mental health problems and their great distress stems from the fact that their parental rights have been undermined. They want to keep their most precious possession: their children.This is almost always the same woman, just in different circumstances. I meet an intelligent and warm woman without any economic support to back her in her struggle, her entire world destroyed. Hanging on any shred of hope that might overturn this evil decree; maybe G-d will help and this will not happen, she prays.  Maybe there will be messengers that will redeem her and her children from their suffering; from the pain of separation, the bias against her and the destruction that plagues her....I decided to fly to Vienna to try to fundraise from the women of the community for Yael (one such case in Golders Green).I organized a number of lectures during which I told my life story of tragedy, of kidnapping my girls.After I told the story of Yael, religious women contributed generously to help pay her lawyers. At the end of one lecture a young woman came up to me and told me the story of Beth Schlesinger , a story that the whole community of Vienna knows very well but no one is able to intervene. She asked me to try to help Beth regain custody of her twins who were cruelly taken from her husband, a psychiatrist who fabricated a report claiming she was insane and was unable to raise her children.’Everybody in Vienna knows that's not true but the husband was assisted by a number of Rabbis and a close acquaintance of the judge.Since then I have returned to Vienna several times to try to connect the puzzle of the Schlesinger family. Hearing evidence of community members I met personally and from conversations with friends of Beth, as well as meetings with Beth and the children, I uncovered a few facts Beth, a young, intelligent, pretty, thirty year old, has suffered a humiliating and trying ordeal. All the while the people around her are fully aware of the injustices done to her and are unable to help her uncover the truth . They are afraid!!! Everyone who spoke to me painfully told me how much they sympathized with Beth , know that she is 100% innocent and her children were impeccably well cared for by her, but they implored me in every way possible not to get involved in the story and not to ask them to testify because they were afraid , because their husbands did not allow them to intervene, or they had already been threatened more than once; if they help Beth, their lives are in danger. Religious men and women and even Rabbonim shared with me their distress and a sense of powerlessness knowing that nothing could be done . They received threatening phone calls and emails that if they helped Beth, their reputations would be ruined in the community and they would be forced to remove their children from the Jewish schools. Had I not heard this for myself from serious people, I would have suspected they had made it up. It sounded so absurd.A whole community know and are aware of a grave injustice and all stay silent???I met Beth and the children. I brought them a kindergarten level book about Shabbat as a present, with coloured pictures of the Shabbat table with bright script. I sat with the children while they lay in Beth’s arms and tried to read them the story, to interest them in the nice pictures and try to elicit some kind of reaction from them. I spoke to them in Hebrew, Yiddish and English, words recognisable to any Jewish child that goes to kindergarten; Shabbat candles, challot, kippa. They both stared at the pictures but it was clear that the words were alien to them. They held on to their mother, clinging to her sweater. The only words I heard from them were sounds when I managed to really make them laugh or tickled them. They did a nice activity together but the interaction was mainly just between the two of them. We were together for a few hours, both inside and outside the apartment. The children ate meatballs cooked in tomato sauce with rice that Beth had made for them with love and care. We played together and went to the park on bikes. The children interact naturally with their mother but it is difficult to recognize any speech. They are not developed for their age.They only mumble a few syllables in baby talk.The separation from their mother is evidently difficult for them. In order not to make it even more difficult for them, Beth takes them to the park and the visiting centre on their bikes; a meeting place with the father which involves traveling an hour away from where she lives, even though the father lives nearby. What a waste of 4 year old children’s energy, to be dragged by bus to a distant place .This story is delusional . I saw a devoted mother who treats her children with love, warmth , who showers them with the love of a mother. I cried together with her. Together we tried to hold back the tears when it was time to return them. I was there. I saw with my own eyes . I cried with her. The world calls out when a cat is taken away or a chicken from its pen but Vienna,  an enlightened community of 5774 remains silent while Beth was wickedly separated from her children. I met Beth and the kids again. The heartbreaking picture repeated itself. I took another member of the community with me as a witness. I wanted someone else to see what I saw. This injustice cries to heaven.I asked to interview Beth's friends from the past, those who were her friends when she was married to Dr. Schlesinger and betrayed her. These religious women admitted that they played a role in taking the children away.  Either through naivety or stupidity, they were manipulated by the Schlesinger family and spread around that Beth had post natal depression and couldn’t function. They wanted to help him get custody the children.  They were young and naive and didn’t understand how brutal this game is. The community have known him since childhood, Beth is the outsider.  Are these grounds enough to separate a devoted mother from her children ?It was explained to me how this reality came about .The judge who decided the fate of the Schlesinger children is a friend of the father ! ! !A High court judge who is a convert to Judaism and doesn’t keep Torah and Mitzvot. At the  Bar mitzvah of her son nobody from the religious community was present except for one Rabbi. I met him and talked with him for a  long time. The Rabbi assured me that he is not involved in the matter concerning family Schlesinger but lo and behold, he is the only member of the community that is in contact with the judge on the case! This judge 's husband is a psychiatrist who works with Dr. Schlesinger in the same hospital ! ! !I also found out that every lawyer that has hired to represent her custody case has quit without any explanation.  I have been told that it doesn’t matter what the reality is, it’s irrelevant what the facts are, it doesn’t matter how much the children are suffering, everyone in Vienna knows that nothing can be done. They will continue to support the father, despite believing the mother. Since then I have returned to Vienna often. On  Chanukah the mother was told that there was no Chanukah party in the kindergarten even though there was. Nobody came to be with the children there; not the father, not the grandmother, and not the aunt. But the mother was denied entry. An entire community, living, breathing and silent. Religious mothers tell their children a bedtime story , tuck their children into their blankets and give them a goodnight kiss. Beth 's kids are not as lucky. They are looked after by 2 Filipinos On Simchat Torah, they were not with the father in the synagogue, but the rabbis backing him claim he cares for them wonderfully, that the children speak 3 languages and they are thriving! They have even submitted a written statement with these claims to court! I saw with my own eyes ... that's not true. In the Vienna community religious women know the truth and are afraid to speak out. At one of my talks, I gave Beth the opportunity to speak. She  is a wonderful , warm and sensitive. She is going through an unbearable test.I hope that soon we will celebrate her redemptionAnd her children will be returned .

In sorrow

Miriam Rosenberg

No comments :

Post a Comment

please use either your real name or a pseudonym.