President of the Jewish Community in Vienna Responds

Oskar Deutsch, current president of the Austrian Jewish Community (IKG)

Friday 4th February 2022

K’vod haRav, dear Chief Rabbi Mirvis,

thank you for the constructive conversation over the phone we had today. I truly believe that no child should be separated from its parents. Therefore, since the beginning of the custody battle between Beth an her ex-husband, the wellbeing of their children has been mine and the community’s primary concern. I myself and many members of our community tried to mediate and find solutions as you know. Even years after the first court rulings many members of this community not only expressed their solidarity with Beth but supported her actively on many occasions.

Upon her own request some mediated between her and her ex-husband, delivered messages between them in order to enable continued contact between Beth and her sons. The former Chief Rabbi of Vienna organized accompaniment by friends of Beth’s when the court ordered supervised visitations. Others helped Beth prepare for court hearings, studied files together with her.

Nevertheless a campaign based on false assumptions against the Vienna Jewish Community was initiated and a few dozen emails reached the community’s office in the past days regarding the custody battle. I completely understand the compassion and outpour of empathy by many during the ongoing campaign. One can not hear about Beth’s fate without being deeply touched at the same time. I feel her pain.

However, the ruling over the children’s custody is a legal one and has been made by independent Austrian courts. The Jewish Community did not participate in the court case beside the fact many members individually helped her before, during and after the hearings as mentioned above. But no president, no Rabbi and no community official is able to influence or even overrule a court ruling. Any appeal of the current court decision can only be made within the Austrian and European legal framework by the parties involved through presenting further evidence before a judicial authority
that could review Beth’s case.

Let’s rally all behind the immediate goal of enabling Beth to participate at her twins upcoming Bar Mitzwot. Due the legal frame explained above, this can only happen with the consent of both parents. This goal can not be achieved by this campaign. In fact an email from Beth herself would have been the best way to get in contact with our community, but she didn’t reach out. Instead a campaign, that has harassed Jewish organizations, employees and members of our Kehilla, and is based on false claims and assumptions about the Vienna Jewish Community has been started. It is jeopardizing both, the immediate goal mentioned above, as well as any solution that would benefit all parties involved and bring Beth closer to her sons.

Nevertheless I continue to strive for solutions in this matter. Therefore I have reached out to Beth’s ex-husband last night via phone. He said he never declined Beth attending their sons Bar Mitzwot and is still willing her to see the boys within a framework both need to commit to. I myself and our community will continue to assist achieving this immediate goal. Let’s focus all together to make this

Yours sincerely,

Oskar Deutsch

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