Jewish Telegraph Front Page 7th January 2022


The Chief Rabbi has revealed nearly three years on details of his flying visit to Vienna to attempt to resolve the plight of Manchester tug-of-love mother Beth Alexander.

His decision follows the mass outrage and outpouring of support for her, after the Jewish Telegraph story last week about an Austrian court’s decision to bar all access to her 12-year-old twins who live with their father Dr Michael Schlesinger in Vienna.

She is even banned from involvement in arrangements for their barmitzvahs. Ms Alexander, 37, who separated from Dr Schlesinger in 2011, relocated to London from the Austrian capital in 2016 to embark on a law degree. She has since qualified as a solicitor. Ms Alexander, pictured below, who married in 2006, has alleged that her husband subjected her to psychological terror and physical violence throughout their short marriage.

Following a series of decisions that she dubbed “dubious”, Beth launched a media campaign and lobbied British MPs.In 2018, Chief Rabbi Mirvis, fulfilling a promise to Ms Alexander to do anything in his power to assist her plight, flew to Vienna with a delegation and met communal leaders, including Rabbi Jacob Biderman, who heads Chabad there.The Jewish Telegraph was aware at the time of Rabbi Mirvis’s secret mission, during which he also met the Schlesinger twins, Samuel and Benjamin, at a Jewish summer camp they were attending.

Rabbi Mirvis apparently was moved to tears during that meeting. His spokesman told Ms Alexander he had never previously seen Rabbi Mirvis thus affected.The Chief Rabbi said; “One cannot fail to be moved by Beth’s plight.“This latest setback adds yet another layer to a longstanding injustice.

”Rabbi Mirvis’s spokesman confirmed last night that they had decided to go public following last week’s Jewish Telegraph story.

They had decided to keep details of the visit private until now for fear of Ms Alexander being accused of seeking publicity over it, thereby aggravating her situation.Rabbi Mirvis flew to Vienna at Ms Alexander’s request after all options had been exhausted.

Rabbi Mirvis has pledged to remain in contact with her and will discuss the case further with her later this month.Ms Alexander, who had entertained renewed hope following Brexit and sought to reopen the case for a retrial, was shocked last month when her application for indirect and direct contact with her sons, was rejected by a local Austrian district court, presided over by the same judge, Susanne Gottlicher, who had made the initial highly contested decision to remove the children from Beth’s care and control to award sole custody to the father.

The original application had been made via the International Child Abduction and Contact Unit (ICACU), which was established to enforce the Articles of the 1996 and 1980 Hague Convention. Ms Alexander and those close to her are at a loss to understand what has persuaded the courts that a loving mother is somehow a danger to her own children, particularly since, on one occasion during their marriage, Dr Schlesinger was removed from their home by police after he tried falsely to have her committed.

Those who know her are incredulous that the court had been told that the twins “do not have good memories” of their last contact with Beth.Last week’s Jewish Telegraph story was viewed tens of thousands of times on social media, with hundreds of comments posted supporting Ms Alexander.

She told the Jewish Telegraph last night: “I am flabbergasted by the huge groundswell of support. Tanya Duman, a stranger who has never met me or my family, read the JT article and immediately set up a Facebook group which has been joined by thousands of well-wishers.“

I want to say a massive thank you to the huge number of people who have reached out personally to extend their support and those who have backed us by joining the group. “Perhaps the most shocking and disturbing aspect to come out of all this is just how widespread and far reaching post separation abuse is. “Mothers, in particular, have been sending me messages from all over the world to share their chillingly parallel experiences of family court. “I realise that most are too ashamed to publicise it because of the stigma of being a mother who has had her child taken away from her. “Equally, many men find themselves grieving for estranged children through no fault of their own.

”Ms Alexander, who has always insisted that the religious community of Vienna closed ranks to support her ex-husband, added that it was “a secret scourge” experienced by loving and protective parents all over the world, “who are being dragged through the courts and denied access to their children by a certain type of vindictive ex-partner”.

She added: “It goes further than that. As if being deprived of your right to see your own child isn’t bad enough, the alienator often then seeks to poison the child’s mind against the alienated parent so that the child is manipulated to no longer want the other parent in their life. “Many people have tried to console me by saying once my boys come of age they will come to seek me out themselves, but that misses the point. “There is a serious lack of understanding even in the courts and social services about parental alienation and its devastating impact on both parent and child.

“If I can at least use my tragic case to highlight this underreported issue, then I will be able to assign some meaning to our crippling suffering.” Ms Alexander says that she has lost all faith in the Austrian legal system.See the Jewish Telegraph’s Facebook page for some our our previous stories on this issue, including how history repeated itself for Beth’s former father-in-law.

𝗟𝗲tt𝗲𝗿: 𝗥𝗼𝘁𝘁𝗲𝗻 𝘁𝗼 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗰𝗼𝗿𝗲 𝗼𝘃𝗲𝗿 𝗕𝗲𝘁𝗵 𝗔𝗹𝗲𝘅𝗮𝗻𝗱𝗲𝗿 (𝟬𝟳.𝟬𝟭.𝟮𝟬𝟮𝟮)

There is something rotten afoot in the beautiful city of Vienna. The Austrian capital, renowned over hundreds of years for its culture, is the scene of a true life drama, stranger than fiction and more tragic than some of the productions that have graced the Wiener Staatsoper, one of the world’s leading opera houses.

The Jewish Telegraph has reported for nearly a decade on the case of Manchester-born mother Beth Alexander and her abortive attempts, through the Auistrian courts, to gain custody of her twin boys. The latest saga, featured in last week’s edition, saw her barred entirely from any access to the children, in person, by phone, via video-link or even by letter.

None of this has ever made sense to those acquainted with the case, or even those who have learned of it via the media. There might have been some justification for the ever-worsening decisions by the Austrian judiciary had Ms Alexander been a habitual criminal, a drug addict or an alcoholic. Even they, though, in this country at least, are often allowed some access to their offspring, if they do not have custody. Ms Alexander is a Cambridge graduate who is a family lawyer herself.

There has been the suggestion that someone has got at those who have continually thwarted Ms Alexander’s efforts at least to be able to see her now 12-year-old twins. But every court decision appears to have been worse than the previous one. Is it any wonder that, following our story last week, there has been mass horror expressed over her predicament? While all the exposure is useful, because it keeps the case in the public eye, that alone will not bring justice for Ms Alexander.

There are those within the Viennese Jewish community who appear to have protected one of their own and have even given evidence or briefed against her. On the whole, the rabbinate there has behaved reprehensibly in not protecting this innocent young mother.It is now incumbent on those with any authority within world Jewry to bring pressure on religious leaders in Vienna to force the twins’ father to allow his former wife at least to see her children, as a starting point. How can judges in a democratic country not see the evil of parting a mother from her children in this way? This story is rotten to the core.

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