A court in London was told this week that a nine-year-old girl faces being ostracised by an ultra-Orthodox Jewish community after her mother allowed her to eat McDonald’s fast food and go to a mixed-sex gymnastics class.
According to the Telegraph, the girl’s father said that he feared his daughter would be shunned by relatives and friends.
Litigation began after the girl’s mother left her husband and moved away from an ultra-Orthodox sect in London after she became disillusioned and frustrated by the restrictions placed on her.
Sitting in the Family Court, Judge Laura Harris ruled that the girl should stay with her father but spend time with her mother.
But this did not satisfy the father who then complained about the lifestyle the girl led when with her mother, and objected to her being allowed to eat McDonald’s food and participate in a mixed-sex gymnastics.
He also complained that his estranged wife had driven with the girl on the Sabbath, and had “dressed inappropriately” when picking the youngster up from her ultra-Orthodox Jewish school.
Detail of the case emerged in a ruling by Judge Harris, who did not identify the family involved.
She said the girl’s mom had promised not to allow her daughter to eat meat in future, but objected to her daughter being made to leave the gymnastics class.
Judge Harris ruled the woman should not be forced to remove the girl from the class.
The case was instigated by the father, who had hired a private investigator to follow his estranged wife.
The judge noted that the man had “repeatedly emphasised” his fear that the girl would be ostracised from her community, and said she was “very mindful” of that risk.
In November a ruling by another family court judge revealed that a Jewish man who left an ultra-orthodox community after splitting from his wife was accused of letting their two young children ride their bikes on the Sabbath and watch television.
The man’s estranged wife told Judge Judith Rowe of her concerns about what the children were allowed to do when they visited their father.
She said she was afraid of them being “exposed to an alien way of life” and of religious rules being broken.
The mother said the one of her children had been allowed to press a traffic light button on the Sabbath. The other had been “shown an electronic device”.
They had also had been allowed to eat non-kosher food, she said. The woman also accused her estranged husband of taking off his kippah on Sundays.
Judge Rowe said:
The whole family lived a Satmar ultra-Orthodox Jewish life until early 2013 when the father decided to leave the community … this was a seismic event for the family.