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Yossele Schumacher, Reunited with Parents, Called As Court Witness

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Yossele Schumacher, reunited with both his parents last night for the first time in more than two years, will take the stand Monday in Jerusalem District Court in the trial of a couple charged with hiding him before he was spirited out of Israel.

On trial will be Zalman and Rachel Kutt, members of the Poale Agudat Israel collective village of Kommemiut, where the child reportedly was held for a time after he was abducted by Orthodox Jews who feared he would not receive a sufficiently Orthodox education. It was indicated that Yossele will be asked when he was at Kommemiut. This is a point of contention at the trial because the defense maintains that the couple harbored the boy before the issue came up before the Israel Supreme Court which ordered his immediate return. On that basis, the defense has argued, the Kutts are not guilty of defying the court order.

For the first time in more than two years, Yoselle slept in the home of his parents in Holon, a suburb of Tel Aviv, last night. The long-missing boy, subject of a search on three continents and center of a controversy between strict and liberal religious groupings in Israel which reached Israel’s Parliament, arrived at Lydda Airport last night with his mother and sister from New York.

Among the hundreds waiting at the airport to see the boy were his father, Alter Schumacher, and his elderly, maternal grandfather, Nachman Shtarkes. The latter was released from jail a few hours before the boy’s arrival on orders from the Israel Supreme Court. The grandfather had spent some two years in jail on complaint of the mother, when he refused to cooperate with authorities in finding the boy.

Mrs.Schumacher, asked if there would be a reconciliation with her father, said “I am not angry at him.” The elderly Orthodox Jew said he was “overjoyed,” and that “since I learned Yossele was coming back, I came to life again.”

The boy told the press he was happy to be back in Israel. Asked if he knew “all the time” that he was the missing boy, he said he did not. He said he immediately recognized his mother in New York and a picture of his sister and father.

In response to a question as to where he would go to school in Israel, the father replied “in Holon, like every other child, probably in a Mizrachi school.” The boy, however, interposed with a comment he would like to study in the Yeshiva Etz Chaim in Jerusalem.

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