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Ultra-orthodox Israeli Rabbi Arrested for Kidnaping Yossele Schumacher

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An ultra-Orthodox rabbi was free on bail today after his arrest on charges of responsibility for the kidnaping and sheltering of Yosselle Schumacher, the long-missing child for whom a search has ranged on two continents.

Rabbi Benjamin Mendelson was arrested at Kommemiut village of the ultra-Orthodox Poalei Agudat Israel, and taken before a magistrate in Ashkelon. The arresting officers told the court that the rabbi was responsible for the disappearance of the boy and for his being held against the wishes of his parents. Yosselle was taken from his parents by his Orthodox grandfather, Nachman Shtarkes, two and a half years ago, because of fears that his parents would not give him an Orthodox education.

Police went to the village two months ago to arrest Rabbi Mendelson but were presented from doing so by villagers who placed themselves around the rabbi’s house and warned the police they could take the rabbi “only over our dead bodies.” The police withdrew when Orthodox Knesset members intervened.

The rabbi also was charged with kidnaping and holding another Israeli boy, Israel Greenberg, now 16. The magistrate agreed to set bail at 5,000 pounds and Rabbi Mendelson was released for trial in Jerusalem district court at a date to be set later.

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