Haredi couple from Israel caught with drugs in Ukraine


(JTA) — Ukrainian police arrested a haredi Orthodox couple from Israel at a Kiev airport after finding more than two pounds of marijuana in their luggage.

The website of Ukraine’s border police said the Israelis were apprehended Sunday at Boryspil Airport in a combined operation of the security service, police and customs. The couple was not identified.

The news site www.ch10.co.il, which specializes in news from the haredi world, suggested Thursday that the couple may have been framed in connection with the woman’s legal battle for custody of her nine children with her ex-husband. The article did not name the individuals involved, citing privacy considerations.

According to the article, the couple and the ex-husband are members of a “prominent Hasidic group based in central Israel.” It was identified as the Bnei Brak-based Ger dynasty, one of Israel’s largest, by Israel Greenhouse, a lecturer on the haredi world and former member of that community.

The woman and her husband separated in what interviewees described to ch10.co.il as “an ugly divorce” that was effectuated recently. While maintaining custody of their children, she was engaged to the person assigned by the couple’s rabbi as a marriage consultant to the couple to prevent divorce — a development that many resented in the woman’s devout Hasidic community and even within her own family.

The marriage consultant was recently invited to Kiev for a job interview at a haredi institution, the report said, and was joined on the trip by his fiancee while the children stayed with relatives in Israel. The couple was arrested on their way back based on a tip given to Ukrainian authorities.

The couple reportedly is maintaining that the drugs were planted in their luggage.

According to one of the woman’s neighbors,  unidentified men showed up at her Bnei Brak home before word of her arrest got out and emptied it of her belongings, telling the neighbor that “she will be gone for a while.”

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