Custody is Awarded to Father for Sons to Be Raised Jewish
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Custody is Awarded to Father for Sons to Be Raised Jewish

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An Oakland County (Michigan) Circuit Court judge has taken custody of two children from the mother one year after a divorce and awarded custody to the father in order to raise the children Jewishly.

Attorney Joel Schavrien said Judge George La Plata made the custody decision last week because the mother of two boys aged 9 and 12 had violated the divorce settlement by interfering with the boys’ Jewish education.

Schavrien said the mother, who was born Catholic, had a Reform conversion before her first marriage and a Conservative conversion before her second marriage. As part of the Conservative conversion, the mother agreed in writing to raise any children of the marriage as Jewish.


In recent years, Schavrien said, the mother decided to become Catholic again and raise the boys as Catholic. The husband and wife were divorced last year, with custody awarded to the wife. However, as part of the divorce agreement, the judge ordered that “the sole and exclusive religious training and education of the minor children be in the Jewish faith …”

Schavrien said he petitioned for the custody change on behalf of the father after, contrary to the judge’s order, the mother interfered with the boys’ Jewish education and encouraged Christian beliefs.

The mother involved the Oakland County Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union in the case. The ACLU said the children had the right to ‘make their own decision on religion, based on the First Amendment protections of the Constitution. Judge LaPlata, however, ruled after interviewing the boys that their professions of Christianity were the mother’s thoughts and not the beliefs of the children.

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