Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Charedi World

24 Adar I 5760 - March 1, 2000 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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"I am a Child. Take me Home."

by Yated Ne'eman Staff

In response to the urgent call of gedolim in Eretz Yisrael, prominent rabbonim have laid aside their pressing responsibilities and traveled to England. HaRav E. Mann has been personally sent by HaRav Chaim Kanievsky, and HaRav Y. Marmarush has been chosen as a representative of the Beis Din of HaRav Nissim Karelitz where he officiates as a leading dayan.

The concern is one which could have been thought of as a problem of times long gone by. Yet in this modern era, we are actually being faced with a grave situation of pidyon shvuyim.

What had been initially presented to the general public as a custody battle, has turned into a desperate state of captivity and religious coercion to Catholicism.

In the course of shockingly deceiving court cases which took place in Genoa Italy, Mr. Duhlberg was recently granted absolute custody of his daughters, Nitzan [Racheli] (14) and Danielle [Sorala] (10).

Consequent to the ruling of the Italian court, which concluded that further contact with their mother is a direct danger to their psychological development, the girls were brutally snatched from their home in Israel and deported to Italy almost a year ago.

He had warned his now-religious former wife, prior to her remarriage, that she would regret her decision forever.

"Forever" is a long time. And for these two young girls entrapped in the house of a baptized man, determined in his efforts to destroy every last vestige of Yiddishkeit their mother so lovingly implanted into their young hearts, "forever" seems to have taken on a literal meaning.

Somehow, some way, from time to time, a few lines get smuggled through to their mother in Bnei Brak.

Lines written in tears and in terror.

When I came to his house, I was welcomed by a cross . . . immodest pictures . . . pictures of . . . Christian connotation. (Racheli)

They are now allotted a mere ten minutes twice a week of communication with their mother. The conversations are taped.

I am longing for you so much, I want to come home. I don't like it here. (Sorala)

Visitation has dwindled from full custody (of the mother, at the time of their divorce in 1991), to three times a month. Their meetings are attended by four "observers" who listen in on conversation mandated to be spoken in Italian (although their mother tongue is Hebrew).

Mother, now I am really a prisoner . . . How strong can I be? Does not my "good" father understand that I am also a child? . . . That I want to go home? . . . I don't want to hear bad things about mother. I don't want to leave the house with a policeman. I don't want to be forbidden to speak to people . . . especially whom I love . . . (Racheli)

The girls are denied the right to speak on the phone or write to anyone, aside from those few moments with their mother and maternal grandparents, without Duhlberg's explicit permission.

"My father" screams at me all the time, he cut off the telephone . . . and we got angry and we began to cry, and he got nervous and shouted . . . he is shouting all the time. (Sorala)

Since their arrival in Italy, these brave young girls wage a terrible war for kashrus. It took hunger strikes and food smuggled into their briefcases in school, until their father relented to allow them a minimal supply of kosher food. Three days after Shavuos, they were still eating challos from yom tov. Following the younger child's insistence that her father be kept far from the pots they cooked in, on account of his being a mechalel Shabbos, he has forbidden food from Israel to enter the house. He is concerned that the girls should not have anything to remind them of their mother's home.

He yells that kashrus or no kashrus should not be your concern. And that . . . our education should not interest you. (Racheli)

The girls are being taken to department stores, and bought things endlessly. His goal is not to buy tangible goods. His goal is to "buy" souls.

. . . [all I want is] you, mother, the warm house, the family I love so dearly! They honestly think to buy me with clothing?! . . . (Racheli)

The two sisters have been separated; they are not allowed to sleep in the same room, not permitted to converse. Words of encouragement to each other are exchanged in a locked bathroom, speaking in Hebrew.

. . . (he) doesn't stop repeating that I am wicked and a sinner . . . and my smile is poison and my eyes are full of heartlessness . . . Mother I need you near me, I need my family . . . I don't have the strength . . . (Racheli)

They are being forced to read from the New Testament. Pictures of Christian icons and crosses are hung above their beds. They are presented with Christmas trees and New Years' wishes.

I took the siddur . . . he turned to me, took it away by force and threw it . . . yelling that my prayers are worthless, and they do not reach G-d . . . I told him that his behavior is . . . heresy . . . (Racheli)

The girls are systematically being cut off from anything even distantly related to Judaism. Halachic questions which arise, are clarified in the preciously scarce conversation they are allowed with their mother.

Mother, it is simply heresy to force me to study in a coed school, I cannot any more . . . (Racheli)

The situation has become increasingly frightful, incredibly threatening.

How is it possible to ask me to live here in a madhouse without going crazy? (Racheli)

The letters are dwindling.

I am writing to you really quickly . . . or they will find out that I am writing . . . they are threatening me that if I won't love him, they will take me to a madhouse . . . (Racheli)

The pressure is being tightened without letup. Something is going to snap somewhere, soon.

I am also worried about Sorala, this whole business can really cause her damage. She needs the love of a mother close to her. She needs a home.(Racheli)

Influential personages worldwide have been mobilized in massive efforts against a deformed legal system which stoops to rob a daughter from her mother, to deprive a child from her heritage.

Very soon I will come home to mother and father and to everyone, and I will live a happy life as I lived until now . . . . (Racheli)

The legal fees are astronomical. But we must not allow a Jewish child to be "bought" for lack of funds.

I am doing all I can not to go out of my mind . . . What will be, mother? When will there be an end to all these terrible and wicked happenings? . . . (Racheli)

The obstacles are formidable. But we will never allow a Jewish child to be lost in the face of adversity.

I miss you terribly. In "Shema koleinu" I say, please Hashem Who is Good, hear my prayers. I am still a child. Take me home. Help me to go back home. (Sorala)

We must break through the courts before they break these neshamos!

The race -- is against time.

The fight -- is against shmad.

We've got to save them!

There are astronomical costs involved in this heartbreaking pidyon shvuyim tragedy: Lawyers' fees, publicity expenditures, high-level governmental intervention. Present costs have reached over a quarter of a million dollars, and are projected to reach the half-million mark. Time is of essence.

The rabbonim are staying at the home of R' Yaakov Levison. Please make your generous donations payable to:

YAD ELIEZER CHARITIES (Charity number: 294612R), and forward to one of the following addresses:

R' J. Levison, 10 Craven Walk, London N16


Rabbi S. Weingarten, 23 Sneath Avenue, London NW11

In Israel:


HaRav Yisroel Marmarush

8 Sderot Vishnitz

Bnei Brak 51610 ISRAEL


Those entitled to American tax deductions can make out checks to:

Young Israel of Woodmere - Special Fund

(Write specifically in the memo portion of the check: Dulberg children.)

c/o Rabbi Heshie Billet

Young Israel of Woodmere

859 Peninsula Blvd.

Woodmere, N.Y. 11598

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