Pro bono support network assists —

Less than two weeks ago, Agudath Israel’s Mid-Atlantic Regional director Rabbi Ariel Sadwin fielded a call presenting an alarming and bizarre set of facts. The caller wanted to know if Agudath Israel’s pro bono legal services network could assist with freeing an American woman and her two infant children who had been entrapped in Israel by the children’s father? Following two orders of protections, two arrests, a day- long hearing before the Israel Family Court in Tel Aviv and then proceedings before a rabbinical court in Bnei Brak, the mother and the children arrived safely back at home in the United States.

The mother, a US citizen and resident, traveled from the United States to Israel with her two young children, supposedly to make one last-ditch effort to save her marriage after nearly a year long separation from her husband. Unbeknownst to her, the father, an Israeli national, registered the young children as Israeli citizens, procured passports for them, and secured an ex parte order prohibiting the children from leaving Israel. When the mother attempted to leave Israel with the girls, she was detained at the airport. Various emergency criminal and family court proceedings ensued in an attempt to protect the mother and children and lift the prohibition order. Attorneys Mitchell Silk and Joel Yacoob, members of the Agudath Israel’s Legal Support Services division, prepared draft applications to the US State Department requesting repatriation of the children under the Hague Adoption Convention, as well as applications relating to the children in the New York Family Court. The mother’s Israeli attorney successfully argued before the Israeli Family Court to lift the prohibition order, only to have the mother detained once again with the children at the airport, this time due to a prohibition order that the father procured on an ex parte basis from a rabbinical court. The Israeli attorney was ultimately able to convince the rabbinical court that there was no basis for the prohibition order in Israel, thus ending the mother’s and children’s constructive entrapment in Israel.

The mother’s Israeli lawyer actually escorted the mother and children back to the United States, where they are now safe and ecstatic to be home.