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
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
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
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
They are now allotted a mere ten minutes twice a week of
communication with their mother. The conversations are
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
"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.
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'
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
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 . . .
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
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
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
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
PIDYON SHVUYIM c/o
HaRav Yisroel Marmarush
8 Sderot Vishnitz
Bnei Brak 51610 ISRAEL
Those entitled to American tax deductions can make out checks
Young Israel of Woodmere - Special Fund
(Write specifically in the memo portion of the check: Dulberg
c/o Rabbi Heshie Billet
Young Israel of Woodmere
859 Peninsula Blvd.
Woodmere, N.Y. 11598