JERUSALEM (Dec. 19)
Yossele Schumacher testified today in the trial of Shalom Shtarkes, the uncle who is charged with complicity in the boy’s two-year disappearance and hiding, that the defendant took him to his first hiding place in Israel–a yeshiva in Rishon L’Zion in the Tel Aviv area.
The crowded courtroom was cleared when the boy, whose disappearance led to a search on three continents, took the stand. This was done out of consideration for the child, but the text of his testimony was later released to the press.
Yossele told the court that, while he was living with his grandfather, Nachman Shtarkes, he was told that his parents planned to return with him to Russia, where he would live with Gentiles and be like a Gentile. His parents had turned him and his sister over to the grandfather, shortly after they came to Israel, while they were seeking to establish a home. The grandfather returned the girl at the parents’ request but held Yossele, contending the parents would not give him an adequately traditional Jewish education.
At the yeshiva, the boy testified, he was warned that police were searching for him and he was forbidden to walk on the main road. Later he was taken in a car from the yeshiva to Kommemiut, an Agudat Israel village, by his uncle, he testified.
SAYS HE FOLLOWED HIS UNCLE WILLINGLY TO HIDING PLACE
Yossele said he went willingly because he had been persuaded his parents meant to take him back to Russia. During all this time, he said, he did not see his parents. The youthful witness was not questioned by the prosecution about interim events of his long disappearance. He was the only witness to identify the defendant as the person who arranged his transfer to Kommemiut.
Rachel Kutt, who actually lodged Yoselle in Kommemiut, told the court that Chalom Chtarkes was definitely not the person who brought the boy to the Orthodox village.
The boy’s mother also testified, declaring that she met with evasion when she sought the boy from his grandfather, who spent more than a year in prison for his refusal to cooperate with the authorities in locating the missing boy. She testified that the grandfather, in refusing to return the boy, said “you will see him again when you are worthy.”
The boy, who was smuggled out of Israel, was tracked down by United States Secret Service operatives at the home of a Brooklyn rabbi last July, and restored to his parents. His uncle went to London where, he was arrested on an Israeli extradition warrant and returned to Israel for trial.