Wednesday, March 26, 2008

NY Jewish Times on Saving Isaac Hersh

If you or anyone you know was abused at Tranquility Bay contact attorney, Joshua Ambush Immediately. He can be reached at: 410-484-2070

Rabbi Aaron Schechter / Tranquility Bay / Michael Hersh

Custody Case Over Son Of Hatzalah Executive Suit alleges 16-year-old ‘being abused’ at Jamaica facility.
by Stewart Ain
NY Jewish Week
March 26, 2008

A bitter custody case centered on a controversial rehabilitation center in Jamaica for troubled youth has embroiled the U.S. State Department, Israel and the CEO of the Hatzalah Volunteer Ambulance Corps here.

At the center of the controversy is Isaac Hersh, 16, who, according to a federal lawsuit, was handcuffed and forcibly dragged from his parents’ Brooklyn home at 5 a.m. on June 13 by two burly men. He was then taken to a school in Jamaica called Tranquility Bay.

The suit, filed by the Washington Center for Peace and Justice, a nonprofit organization dedicated to assisting victims of injustice, alleges that an eyewitness at the facility saw Hersh “being abused by the staff.” The suit claims that there have been “numerous” other documented cases of abuse of youths there.

A former associate of the school, Ken Kay, called the allegations “ludicro us.”

The suit alleges that the “health and safety” of Hersh are in jeopardy and it seeks to compel the State Department to visit him and render him medical care. Named as defendants are the State Department and the teen’s parents, Michael and Miriam Hersh. The former has been the CEO of Chevra Hatzalah Volunteer Ambulance Corps for the past five months.

Meanwhile, the boy’s aunt and uncle, Rosa and Elliott Greher of Silver Spring, Md., are in Brooklyn Family Court seeking to wrest custody of the teen from his parents. In the same court, the youngster’s grandparents, Rafael and Rifka Cohen of Queens, are seeking visitation rights. A May 28 trial is scheduled.

“My only interest is the well-being of Isaac Hersh,” said Rafael Cohen. “I have no involvement in the federal suit.”

He said the custody case was begun “after the parents were willing to voluntarily relinquish custody.” He declined to say what changed their minds.

Asked what would happen if the judge revokes the parents’ custody since U.S. court rulings are unenforceable in Jamaica, Cohen said: “We will have to cross that bridge as we come to it.”

His lawyer, Leah Shedlo, said the Cohens have not spoken with Isaac for about two years. Asked about reports that Isaac has sent a letter home saying he was fine and being treated well, she said she understood that the “children are required to send these letters home. I have spoken with some [former] students and they confirmed it.”

Shedlo said also that Isaac’s court-appointed guardian had not spoken with him as of the last court date in January.

The Hersh’s lawyer, Shlomo Mostofsky, declined comment.

David Shipper, the attorney for Chevra Hatzalah, said his organization is “carefully monitoring” the two court cases, “taking into account the seriousness of the allegations.”

The federal suit contends that Michael Hersh was charged with child abuse by Israeli authorities while the family was living there several years ago. It was alleged that Hersh forced Isaac and his twin brother Shlomo to take medicine without a prescription. The drug was designed “to control them,” the suit said, adding that the family then “abruptly returned to New York.”

Ken Kay, president of the now defunct Worldwide Association of Specialty Programs and Schools, said that until two years ago his organization had provided services to Tranquility Bay and that his son used to be its director. He denied that youngsters there are abused.

“They are there because they do not function well and have been in life-threatening situations,” he said. “It is a facility that is highly structured because the kids have lax structure.”

Asked about the complaints of abuse posted on the Web by former students, Kay said: “Those who don’t complete the program continue to be angry and mean. ... This is a character-building program accredited by the Northwestern Association of Accredited Schools.”

He said Jamaican officials and representatives from the American consulate “regularly visit and if there was abuse there, they would have reported it. ... I’m very comfortable with Tranquility Bay. I think it’s a good school.”

Isaac Hersh - Age 16


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi. I am writing about the story about Isaac Hersh.

The story is a fabrication to the highest degree. I grew up with them and know them since I was a little kid.
The parents never abused anyone and I would know since my own family took in 10 foster children from abusive homes over the years.

March 28, 2008 8:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
Hi. I am writing about the story about Isaac Hersh.

Dear Anonymous,
Go to hell!

March 30, 2008 4:07 AM  

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