Sunday, February 12, 2006

K.J. Satmarstry to block wife's leaving

Satmar Grand Rebbe Joel Teitelbaum
By Chris McKenna
Times Herald-Record - February 11, 2006

Kiryas Joel - When police arrived at the apartment building that Sunday afternoon in December, a crowd had gathered on Lizensk Boulevard for what appeared to be a domestic dispute that had somehow aroused a lot of attention.

Since then, a curious tale has emerged, one of a teenage Jewish couple spirited out of the Middle Eastern country of Yemen 11 years ago and absorbed into this insular Hasidic community. This is where they had seven children in rapid succession and then found themselves at loggerheads.

What went wrong in the Alnahari household is a matter of dispute, soon to play out in Family Court. Seven young children are caught in the middle, pawns in a larger struggle involving the Satmar Hasidim and the Yemenite Jews they rescued from persecution.

The Satmar hosts are cast as sinister prison guards, bent on separating Yemenite children from their parents; the self-described rescuers are reviled for seeking to corrupt fellow Jews by dispatching them to a secular Israel.

The story might have stayed within the Satmar world, but for the repeated police involvement. The conflict rose a notch when state troopers arrested three men who allegedly forced their way into the Alnahari apartment to berate the 27-year-old mother, Sanaa, and two women who have been helping her.

Felony burglary charges were filed against Israel Grunhut, 27; Issac Weinstock, 29; and Israel Rolnitsky, 44. The three Kiryas Joel men were briefly held in the Orange County Jail in Goshen until each posted $25,000 cash bail.

Virtually no one involved in the case wanted to discuss it yesterday. The lone exception was Barbara Strauss, a Goshen lawyer representing Sanaa's 29-year-old husband, Youssef, in his pending custody battle with his wife.

"It would be nice," she said, "if everyone got out of Mr. and Mrs. Alnaharis' business. It's just a sad situation."

What keeps drawing crowds to the Alnaharis' basement apartment - including yesterday - is the presence of two women determined to help the wife: Yocheved Mauda, a Yeminite immigrant who lived in Kiryas Joel for 17 years; and Rina Birnbaum, an Israeli immigrant who lives in New City.

They claim the husband conspired with Satmar authorities last year to commit Sanaa to a psychiatric ward for six weeks and place the couple's 2-month-old baby and six other children with various families while she was away. They have shuttled her to the state police barracks to file complaints and to Family Court, where they helped her petition for custody.

The husband, meanwhile, has told police and the court that his wife suffered post-partum depression and threatened suicide before she was committed to a New York City hospital last year. He claims he temporarily placed the children in other homes so she wouldn't be overwhelmed when she came home.

In Kiryas Joel, residents familiar with the situation believe Mauda and Birnbaum are trying to spirit Sanaa Alnahari and her children off to Israel. Satmar members regard Israel as an abomination and a secular society. They believe the Bible dictates that Israel shouldn't exist until the Messiah comes.

Their revulsion for Israel induced some community members to visit Yemen in the 1990s and collect its remaining Jews, whose customs held a unique link to the world of the ancient Jews. Most Yeminite Jews had fled to Israel decades earlier to escape persecution in the predominantly Muslim country.

Interviewed in December, Sanaa Alnahari, who speaks little English, gave no indication she actually wanted to go to Israel. She didn't seem at all certain what she wanted, except to have her children back. At that time, four of the seven children had been retrieved by Mauda or found their way home. Two more were returned.

The baby, who is reportedly disabled, was brought home, but is now in another foster home.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am so enraged after reading this article. What can we do to help these women?

B'H' this story hit the newspaper.

February 12, 2006 10:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

WHY did you put up a picture of a deceased Rabbi - who has NOTHING to do with this story?

It's a shame - especially considering the wonderful work you do...

Please take it off and right a wrong.

February 15, 2006 10:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

doesn't that rabbi represent the Satmar movement? I think it makes sense.

February 15, 2006 12:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So anon... this Rabbi, who has long since been niftar (deceased) who LOVED EVERY FELLOW JEW REGARDLESS OF THEIR BELIEFS, especially the downtrodden, all of a sudden represents some extremists within the Satmar community? Give me a break.

When this great person was among the living he was their leader... and if he wouldn't have come out against such similarlunatics - fine, you'd have a point. But WHY put up HIS photo here? He's not the perpetrator, endorser of, nor has "encouraged his chassidim" of such behavior. Quite the contrary.

I think it is despicable to link his photo to this.

February 16, 2006 1:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

rabbi teitlebaum represents the satmar movement with its extreme hatred of jews who are zionists - the apple doesn't fall far from the tree - although satmar is supposedly not as extreme as the neturai karta who tell farrakan that the jews derserved the holocaust and meet with hamas and iran - it didn't spring from the air

satmars takes advantage of naive yemenite jews - trades them new seforim for their very valuable 1,000 year old texts (making millions of dollars for themselves) and forces them into a represive lifestyle -that they can then not escape from

they opress women - "encourage" them to have an average 10 babies each at a very young age - "encourage" them to shave their heads

why take down the satmar rebbe's picture - with out him - this hateful group would not exist

I suggest you read "unchosen people" by Hella Winston - for a more in depth insiders view of satmar

April 05, 2006 9:19 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is so funny of you that you simply take everything that was done to the Yemenites in the Israeli absorption camps and you smear that right on the Satmars.

I was personally involved in a story that in fact opened my eyes to the noble work that the Satmar do to help Yemenite families, both, in Israel, and in the US.

What's right is right, what's wrong is wrong. Do not take the painful Yemenite history and dump that on the Satmars just because there are critics against them.

P.S. As much as I am aware, Rina Birnbaum and Yocheved Mauda, have been involved with several cases in the past, in mischief work, breaking up peaceful families. By presenting themselves as “advocates”, they gain access to the internal affairs of the family, and then abuse it.

June 13, 2006 5:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am not sure what you are talking about. While I can clearly see big time hatred from you to the Satmars, Rabbi Joel Teitelbaum was a wonderful loving personality who did not agreed with the Zionist ideal. He teached his followers to oppose Zionism, not Zionists. Satmars strongly oppose the Zionist ideal, State of Israel, Israeli political parties, etc. Satmar does not oppose an individual as an "individual".

I agree that the picture of Rabbi Tetelbaum is strongly inappropriate and is simply a blasphemy to one of our great sages in the last generation.

June 13, 2006 5:19 PM  

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