Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Charedi World

20 Teves 5760 - December 29, 1999 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Dulberg Court Custody Decision Annulled

by Yated Ne'eman Staff

An Italian Court of Appeals has annulled a decision by the country's Minors Court, which had granted custody of two Orthodox Jewish girls to their self-professed Catholic father. Another custody hearing will be held at a date to be determined.

The case began several years ago when the parents of Nitzan and Danielle Dulberg, Moshe and Tali, native Israelis living in Genoa at the time, were divorced and the mother was awarded custody of their two children, Nitzan then 6, and Danielle 2.

When the mother became religiously observant and moved to Israel, the father filed for sole custody, claiming that his former wife had become unfit to raise their daughters.

An Italian court, in a blatantly one-sided decision, accepted the claim based on "expert" opinions indicating that an observant Jew is unfit to be a satisfactory mother. The court refused to hear any testimony from experts who are immediately familiar with the Orthodox Jewish lifestyle, and relied on the information supplied by the father.

The court also ruled that contact between mother and daughters must be minimal and subject to conditions imposed by the father.

The court also refused to hear testimony about the fitness of both parents to raise the girls, including psychological evaluations of both the mother and the father.

The father had in the meantime become a practicing Catholic, and wished to bring up his daughters accordingly.

In its ruling, the Italian Minors Court ignored the accepted approach and did not consider the wishes of the children, nor provide that their relationship with the mother be allowed to continue. This is in stark violation of all international agreements about the rights of children.

The Italian UN ambassador, Francesco Paolo Fulci, is chairman of the UN Commission on the Child. The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child provides that a child has "a right to maintain personal relations and direct contacts with both parents on a regular basis."

Thousands of letters were received by Italian authorities, and many international figures were enlisted to try to see that justice is done.

All outside authorities agree that it is important that the health and welfare of the children be the primary test of what to do in this case. It is also important that the Court show respect for Jewish practice, identity and culture that are in many places around the world the basis for healthy, vibrant communities that allow their members to fully interact with the world.

Many readers responded to our earlier calls for writing letters and faxes. Readers are urged to continue to pray for Devorah Nitzan bas Tali and Danielle bas Tali.

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