Accountability and transparency within our institutions and leadership.
posted by jewishwhistleblower @ 9:21 AM
Although I will continue to criticize the Jewish Press editorial board for it's unresearched, one-sided, biased and unobjective support of Rabbi Mordechai Tendler and criticism of the Forward and Jewish Week, I wanted to echo Michael Lesher's support for the article by Dr. Amy Neustein last week.also see:http://www.theawarenesscenter.org/ozzieorbach.html1) Letterhttp://www.thejewishpress.com/news_article.asp?article=4589LETTERS TO THE EDITOR Posted 1/12/2005 By JEWISH PRESS READERS ...Mothers And The CourtsAs the co-writer of Dr. Amy Neustein`s From Madness to Mutiny: Why Mothers Are Running From the Family Courts — and What Can Be Done About It, I was gratified to see her article in The Jewish Press (“From ‘Childless Mother’ To Family Court Reformer: My Story,” Jan. 7). It was researching and writing about Dr. Neustein`s personal story that first made me aware of the severity of the problems facing mothers who bring child abuse charges into today`s family courts.Dr. Neustein and I have studied thousands of cases in which the courts penalized mothers for making such accusations. We hope our book will begin to change the system. But it`s already an important milestone when Dr. Neustein`s story appears in a paper like yours. Thank you.Michael Lesher, Esq.(Via E-Mail)2) Article(JWB: I have removed the victim's name from the article)From `Childless Mother` To Family Court Reformer: My Story Posted 1/6/2005 By Dr. AMY NEUSTEIN "Can a woman forget her child?" Those words ofthe prophet Isaiah have haunted me for almost 20years. In 1986, I lost my six-year-old daughter to amalfunctioning family court system that punished mefor trying to protect my daughter from abuse. Nextmonth, I will be delivering a keynote address to the"Battered Mothers Custody Conference" at SienaCollege near Albany, New York. The distinguishedspeakers will include New York AdministrativeJustice Jacqueline Silbermann and former familycourt judge, and New York State legislator KarenBurstein. All through the conference, I will bethinking of my daughter, S.This remarkable three-day event (January 7-9)is the brainchild of Siena psychology professor MoTherese Hannah, an advocate for abused women andchildren, with whom I have had the privilege ofworking for the past year. Mo is a Catholic and I aman Orthodox Jew. What brought us together was acommon family court experience — and adetermination to protect other mothers from thejudicial cruelty I suffered.Almost two decades ago, I became a "childless"mother — a mother whose connection with herbiological child was completely severed by a court. Ididn`t abuse my then six-year-old daughter, nor did Ideny her love, attention, food or medical care. On thecontrary, I loved S with all my heart and soul. Itried to protect her, believing her when she reportedbeing abused by her father. I was punished becausethe family court didn`t want to listen to her.The court took my daughter from me on thefourth day of Succot, 1986, never to return home. Foralmost a year after that, I couldn`t accept the loss. Inthe middle of the night, I would wake up andinstinctively walk to the bed in my daughter`s room,thinking she would be there. Sometimes I eventhought I heard her voice in the house, and thateverything would be normal again. I thought if I triedhard enough, I would hear the familiar sounds of herlaughing, singing and playing — that she would beback with me. I yearned to hold my daughter in my lap, to singto her, to put her to bed, the way I had night afternight, when I would sit beside her and she wouldrecite K`rias Sh`ma. But each time I was pulled upagainst the cold reality that she was gone. I could notsee or touch her: I was denied the pleasure ofattending a school play, a graduation ceremony, evenher Bas Mitzvah.I think I might have given way had I notretained the Orthodox Jewish faith in which I wasraised. I refused to resign myself to the role ofchildless mother. I fought to get my daughter back,and when I failed in the courts, I went on nationaltelevision, reaching out to mothers across America.Every year, shortly after the mourning of Tisha b`Av,I would hear Isaiah`s words read aloud in shul:"Hatishkach isha ula, meracheim ben bitnah?" (Can awoman forget her nursling child? Can she withholdher caring for the child of her womb?). Those wordsengraved themselves into my memory. I knew that nowoman who lost her child to the courts could everforget her, and that G-d would never forget, either. Iknew with every fiber of my being that I could nevergive up the struggle. Something had to be done tomake the madness stop.I am a sociologist, and as I continued my ownstruggle, I learned that I was not alone — that anepidemic of childless mothers — mothers madechildless by decrees of the family courts — has sweptacross America. After I told my story on television,first dozens, then hundreds, then thousands of othermothers began to call, tearfully or furiously describinghow they had been shut out of the lives of theirchildren for trying to protect them from abuse. I decided to chronicle and study the humantragedy of which I was now a part. I gathered dataceaselessly, collecting case files from mothers acrossthe country. I moved back to my parents` home inManhattan Beach, Brooklyn, where I set up a round-the-clock counseling center for mothers who werelosing their children to the courts. My dear mother (aleha hashalom) was asdevoted to counseling mothers as I was, often talkingwith them late into the night. In fact, as other peoplejoined me in providing counseling, many of the mostdesperate calls were routinely routed to my mother,who was soon known to suffering mothers throughoutthe country as "Grandma Shirley". They never knewthat they were being counseled by a rabbi`s wife.Over the years, I have continued to turn my paininto productive work. I have published criticalcommentaries on the family courts in academicjournals. I have been invited to speak at the NationalInstitute of Justice, the Albany Medical CollegeDepartment of Pediatrics, and the Jane AddamsCollege of Social Work.Most recently, with Michael Lesher — a writerand lawyer who is also a ba`al t`shuvah — I conceivedthe idea of a book detailing the family courts`backlash against mothers who try to protect theirchildren from abuse they believe is being perpetratedby the other parent. Our work has taken two years tocomplete, but it will be published this spring as thelead title of the University Press of New England, aconsortium of university presses including Brandeis,Tufts, Northeastern, and Dartmouth. It is as the co-author of this book that I have been invited to speakat the Battered Mothers Custody Conference. From Madness to Mutiny: Why Mothers AreRunning From the Family Courts — And WhatCan Be Done About It is an expose of the familycourts` treatment of mothers and children in litigationinvolving suspicions of abuse by fathers. ProfessorHannah has called this book, "a groundbreaking newbook that is perhaps the most highly readablescholarly work I`ve encountered in my 14 years inacademia. The very first to provide the historical andcontextual chronology of this system`s steady declineinto chaos and corruption over the past two decades."The removal of a child from a mother leaves abreach that never heals. Childless mothers cannotrecapture the years that were taken from them. Butwhen we begin to acknowledge the damage that hasbeen done, and to change the institutions that havecaused it, we can begin to heal our world. The worldcannot and will not be made whole until the courtsrespect the sacredness of the mother/child bond — thevery cornerstone of Jewish life. I came to this task through pain, but it hasbecome a holy bond. Fighting the creation of morechildless mothers in our family courts has become mypersonal tikkun olam.Amy Neustein, Ph.D., co-author of From Madnessto Mutiny: Why Mothers Are Running From TheFamily Courts — And What Can Be Done About It,lives in Edgewater, New Jersey.
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