Jewish Telegraph 28.02.2014



Vienna Jews ‘abandoned tug-of-love mother Beth’

MANCHESTER Beth Din has accused the Vienna Jewish community of abandoning Manchester tug-of-love mother Beth Alexander and demanded that the miscarriage of justice suffered by her is rectified.

Describing the decision of an Austrian court to grant custody of her four-year-old twins to their father as “beggaring belief”, registrar Rabbi Yehuda Brodie said Beth was “a true heroine and a devoted mother”.

TRAGEDY: Beth and her twin sons

TRAGEDY: Beth and her twin sons

Beth, who sees Sammy and Benji for six hours a week and on alternate Sundays when their father Dr Michael Schlesinger does not cancel the visits for which she has to pay, has fought a near-three year battle against the intransigent Austrian legal system.

She was wrongly branded mentally ill by a court in Vienna, which later accepted that she was not.

She is concerned that the twins’ development is severely retarded.

In a damning indictment of the Vienna Jewish community, Rabbi Brodie insisted that it needed “a wake-up call”, adding that it had “abandoned Beth and shattered her expectations of what a community ought to provide for those experiencing difficulties”.

Rabbi Brodie said: “It is obviously not for the Beth Din to comment on the Austrian judicial system save as to say that in all the decades of experience of dealing with issues of this nature I have never ever seen a mother deprived of an ability to relate meaningfully with her children or, indeed, of such tender young children being placed with their father.

“This goes against all the norms of child welfare where the interests of the child are primary and where it is almost without exception that young children are placed with their mother.

“The fact that she has to pay to visit her children and to maintain them when her ability to relate to them is kept to a minimum beggars belief.”

Rabbi Brodie added that he knew Beth personally “and if anyone can be commended for being mentally and emotionally stable, it is she”.

He said that she had endured “nightmare after nightmare” and whereas others would have capitulated or worse, she had remained “strong, steadfast and highly motivated to protect her children”.

Rabbi Brodie declared: “This does not sound like the type of mother who ought to be denied the right to bring up her children.

“The concerns about the physical and emotional development of the children only seek to highlight the tragedy of this case.”

Rabbi Brodie said that the fact Beth had hoped to be a staunch member of an Orthodox community and now felt “totally bereft and lacking any meaningful support” was something which she found even more concerning.

He concluded: “It is the sincere hope of Manchester Beth Din that the community will see Beth for what she is — a true heroine and devoted mother, who could bring so much happiness to her children and ensure their proper development.

“The community is asked to support her in every conceivable way and to ensure that the miscarriage of justice is rectified at the earliest opportunity, enabling her to relate properly and meaningfully with her children.”

You can read the full statement from the Manchester Beis Din here.


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