A personal war between a father and his fifteen-year-old son over the latter’s future, which has been the talk of East Side yeshiva circles for months, yesterday took a sensational turn that landed it on the nation’s first pages and gives promise of changing it from a strictly personal fued to one with the status of a cause celebre.
Abraham Orbach is the son. Samuel is the father. Abraham, for three years a high-ranking student at the Tifereth Jerusalem Yeshiva, on East Broadway, saw visions of himself as a rabbi. The father, unemployed, ill and described by those who know him as a man of extremely nervous temperament, had other ideas. He wanted his son to learn a trade.
Three weeks ago, Abraham, who was being clothed, fed and sheltered by the yeshiva, took matters into his own hands and set out for Cleveland. Funds for the trip, it is believed by the yeshiva authorities, were supplied by classmates who sympathized with his ambitions and parental difficulties.
In Cleveland, Abraham registered at the Orthodox Rabbinical Seminary which, recognizing his talent, awarded him an all-expense scholarship.
A week ago, the young rabbinical student wrote a letter to his father, at 202 Henry street, informing him that he was settled and very happy.
WANTED SCHOOL’S AID
The father took the letter and sought the advice of the boy’s former instructor at the local yeshiva, Rabbi David Adler, principal of the Hebrew Department. Irate, he demanded that the school help him get the youngster back.
But Rabbi Adler refused to act, counseling Mr. Orbach to allow the boy to remain. “Let the boy alone. He’s happy,” the rabbi said yesterday that he advised the father.
Mr. Orbach, however, refused to heed the advice. Instead he had a friend write to the Cleveland police, demanding that his “runaway” son be apprehended and returned to him. The police tried to comply with his request and kept the boy in a cell for several hours, but were unable to force him to return to New York. He stubbornly rejected all offers of transportation to the city he had left to pursue a rabbinical career. The Cleveland police, since no charges have been brought against young Orbach and since he is officially registered at a recognized institution, are puzzled at what their next step should be.
In New York, Mr. Orbach, who speaks English brokenly, refused to reveal what he intends to do next. It is doubted whether he is financially able, or physically well enough to undertake a trip to Cleveland to effect his son’s return. He appeared considerably incensed at “the people who sent my son to Cleveland” and heatedly warned that “they had better bring him back.”
At the yeshiva, where news of the boy’s difficulties in Cleveland created a commotion, officials and former classmates expressed keen resentment over the parent’s actions.
“It’s all a darn shame,” the school’s stenographer said. “He’s such a nice boy and if they don’t stop pestering him so they’ll end by making a tramp of him.”
Rabbi Adler told the Jewish Daily Bulletin that Abraham was a good all-around student and was particularly adept in the study of Hebrew. He said he thought the boy would make a good rabbi and should be permitted to follow his bent.
The high esteem in which Abraham was held in the yeshiva was further attested to by L. R. Rips, secretary of the yeshiva, which is an all-day school that goes right through the high school grades. Abraham, he said, was a good student, although inclined to be a “little wild in conduct.” He had another year to attend before graduation.
The boy’s “little wildness,” Mr. Rips declared, was due entirely to the “antagonistic attitude” of his father. Mr. Orbach, he revealed, had been in the habit of coming to the school almost daily to “pester” him. Arguments between the father and son were frequently violent, he said, and aroused the resentment of the school’s officials.
In the opinion of Rabbi Adler, who discussed the boy’s case with the Jewish Daily Bulletin reporter, the father “hasn’t the facilities to take proper care of him.”
Mr. Orbach is married and lives with his wife at the Henry street address. Another son, younger than Abraham, attends the Rabbi Jacob Joseph Yeshiva at 165 Henry street. When approached by a reporter seeking information, the youth burst into tears.