Hadassah asks to move child to avoid boycott by Haredim

Haaretz, Israel/July 22, 2009

Sheba Medical Center, Tel Hashomer confirmed yesterday that they received a request from Hadassah University Hospital, Ein Karem to transfer the toddler allegedly starved by his mother there for continued treatment, in a bid to end an unofficial Haredi boycott on the hospital.

Hadassah said it would state its opinion on the 3-year-old child's transfer in court on Thursday.

Following improvement in the boy's condition, Hadassah is considering the releasing the child to Sheba so a ban on the hospital declared by the ultra-Orthodox Eda Haredit would be lifted.

A compromise in this spirit was raised yesterday, brokered by Prof. Eliezer Rachmilevitch, formerly a senior member of the staff at Hadassah Ein Karem and currently head of hematology at Wolfson Medical Center.

The move would require the approval of the court, which ruled recently that the child should remain at Hadassah on the advice of Hadassah doctors, a ruling that angered the Eda.

"The material is ready for presentation to the judge so she can reconsider her decision and the child can be moved. The family wants to move him to another hospital, and that is their right," Rachmilevitch said.

Sheba said in a statement, "as happens frequently between two large medical centers, we willingly complied with the request we received from Hadassah to continue treatment that began there, in a matter that will allow therapeutic harmony with the child's family."

Riots underscore rift

The ultra-Orthodox rioters who have been protesting the treatment of the ultra-Orthodox mother are being manipulated by "a group of extremists, full of hatred," a Haredi public figure told Haaretz.

"They want to hear the young men call the police 'Nazis,' for ideology's sake," the man said. His statement reflected an increasing rift among the ultra-Orthodox representatives dealing with the case.

Since Friday, when the mother was released to house arrest after a widely welcomed court-sponsored arbitration process, two voices have seemed to emanate from the extreme margins of the ultra-Orthodox community: one compromising and pragmatic and the second militant.

Members of the first camp say those in the second have hijacked the case, raising impossible demands, including contravening understandings reached in court.

Leaders of the Toldot Aharon Hasidic sect, to which the suspect belongs, say their people have been shunted aside. At the height of the crisis, family-appointed spokesmen Dudi Zilbershlag and Moshe Friedman threatened to step down from their role.

The background to the rift is found in the complex relationships in the Eda Haredit, the umbrella organization of Hasidic sects and anti-Zionist and separatist groups headed in recent years by Rabbi Yitzhak Tuvia Weiss. Although Toldot Aharon is one of the larger groups in the Eda, Weiss has been given the reins in handling the affair.

The public figures he appointed to deal with it, particularly Aharon Teitelbaum and David Shmidel, are considered extremely militant. Schmidel is known from his uncompromising protests over construction at building sites where human bones are found, and control over the tomb of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai on Mount Meron. Avraham Freulich, at whose home the suspect is under house arrest, is subservient to Teitelbaum and Shmidel.

At the family's request, the head rabbi of the Toldot Aharon group sent a sharply worded message to Weiss. He reminded Weiss of the 2006 case of the yeshiva student Israel Vales, arrested on suspicion of killing his infant son and subsequently convicted of manslaughter.

"If what happened to Valas happens to the mother, it will be your fault," the message said, according to a senior source. Following the message and an urgent court hearing Monday, the Haredi figures handling the case agreed to allow the woman to have an initial meeting with a court-appointed psychiatrist.

When asked whether a second meeting was forthcoming, Freulich told Haaretz, "no comment."

To see more documents/articles regarding this group/organization/subject click here.