A Jerusalem family made the news last month, after their attempts to marry off their 13-year-old daughter were foiled by police, with the help of concerned members of the community. The ceremony, kept secret, was held in the Mea Shaarim neighborhood. Police were familiar with the 13-year-old bride, as she had been abducted by her mother and reported missing two months prior.
Though the most recent wedding attempt was stopped, the family’s 16-year-old son is currently married.
As is to be expected, the ordeal was the culmination of a lengthy family history of abuse and poor mental health. Recently, the children’s mother reportedly joined the “shawl cult,” an extremist sub-group which requires women to wear full-body ‘burqa’-style coverings. The group has been condemned by the vast majority of mainstream charedi authorities. After attempting to bring her daughters into the cult with her, askanim intervened.
Both parents have now surrendered custody of the children, the youngest of whom is just 6 years old. An emergency fund page includes a letter from Rav Yoel Wallerstein, an askan whose family has taken in the newly-orphaned children.
Though the Wallerstein family and others have dedicated their time and energy to rehabilitating the children, they lack the funds necessary to cover their basic needs, including food, clothing, school tuition, and medical expenses.
A collection has been taken up to cover these expenses, with the hopes of creating some security for them until they have been raised to adulthood.
The fund also includes a letter from Rav Naftali Nussbaum shlit”a, in which the situation is described as tragic, and highly urgent.
“You can rest assured,” reads fund text, “that you are mamash putting supper on the plate of these kids.”
Donations are being collected here.