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Jewish Girl to Be Baptized Despite Mother’s Wishes

Jewish Chronicle

Rabbi Odom Brandman tried to help the family prevent the Baptism in court.

A ten-year-old child in Essex, UK has been given permission by a judge to convert to Christianity against her Jewish mother’s wishes. Local Shliach Rabbi Odom Brandman argued before the court that such a move would be “disturbing, unnatural and unfair to the child,” to no avail.

Both parents of the girl, who cannot be named, are Jewish. But after the marriage soured, her father converted to Christianity and his children, the girl and a younger brother, could now do the same.

He already takes them to church every other weekend, which the mother has agreed to, but in November she applied for a court order to prevent the father from having the girl baptised, at least until she is 16. The court heard that the girl herself had asked to be baptised and that the father initially doubted that she was serious.

The judge at Romford County Court has now written to the girl giving her permission.

Judge John Platt told the child: “Your father thinks it is right for you to be baptised as a Christian now. Your mother wants you to wait until you are older, so they have asked me to decide for them. That is my job.”

He said he had decided that “the best thing” for her would be to be allowed to start baptism classes as soon as they could be arranged “and that you are baptised as a Christian as soon as your minister feels you are ready”.

But he added: “Being baptised does not mean that you give up your Jewish heritage. That will always be part of you and I hope that you will continue to learn more about that heritage.”

The court heard a written submission from Chabad rabbi Odom Brandman, who said the case was “extremely disturbing”.

“In Judaism we don’t encourage conversion either way as it is unnatural for a person to change the religion they are born into and which thus is ingrained in their soul in a deep way. Although conversions are performed they must be worked at over a number of years when a real change can realistically take place. It is unfair to any child to put them under this pressure and to do something unnatural to their soul.”

The child’s grandparents said the father was forcing their granddaughter to give up her Jewish heritage.

The judge’s decision does not mean the baptism will go ahead, but it stops the mother from preventing it via the courts.

13 Comments

  • 4. Thinkster wrote:

    Should have argued that a 10 year old has no autonomy. Just as a 10 year old cannot consent to a medical procedure, but must have her parents or guardian consent on her behalf, so too is a 10 year old not of capacity to decide something as significant as changing religion.

  • 5. Milhouse wrote:

    If she’s already going to church, there’s really not much difference whether she has some water shpritzed on her or not. It makes no difference to the golus her neshomo is in. And the decision isn’t unfair; if it were the other way around we’d be happy about it. Ideally, of course, we’d like the courts to recognize that the Torah is true and their religions are false; but that won’t happen until Moshiach comes. And since they haven’t come to that realization, it’s good in general that they’re neutral, even though in a case like this it means that this poor little neshomo loses. The shliach did right to do whatever he coudl to prevent it, but it’s not surprising that he lost.

  • 6. Milhouse wrote:

    #4, She has a parent’s consent. And of course if the case were reversed we’d be arguing the opposite. If she wasn’t Jewish and wanted to be megayer, and her mother was against it, we’d be arguing to allow it with her father’s consent. Don’t confuse the arguments we might make with our actual goals.

  • 7. anonymous wrote:

    May Hash-m help and strengthen the mother and the children! Please tell the CrownHeights.info readers how we can contact the mother to show our support. She is fighting this battle on her own and needs our support! I know how she feels, I have tried for years to be accepted in the frum world as a single mother with children, and going up against non-religious/non-Jewish relatives, and a community that sadly it seems, only frum from birth, “cookie cutter” families with connections really fit it in. It is a almost a losing battle. People don’t understand how alone Jewish single parents really can feel. Who will daven with our children in shul? And everyone is so ready to point out that we could have done more to make a marriage work. Or, it’s really not so bad. Please, help this woman, by helping her or other single Jewish parents in any way shape or form you can. Remember, Amalek attacked the weakest of the Jewish people. We must take care of one another in a ruchnius and gashmius way!

  • 8. mendel wrote:

    Millhouse

    IIRC correctly baptism R“L requires tevila – for teshuva – ma she’ein kein attendins a tuma R”L. U’mesaymim b’tov

  • 9. Simple Yid wrote:

    To #4
    Usually you would be right, however, when we are dealing with 2 parets who cannot get along, the judge will then see what the child wants and make his decision with that in mind, because 9 times out of 10 (or 10/10) the judge cannot make the husband and wife agree. And in this case the father gave his consent.

    To #7
    We would never stand for this if it were the opposite as you suggest, we have always tried to discourage gairus, especially if the child or other parent doesnt agree, this would create more bad than good, so no, we would not argue any differently if the situation was reversed. Rabbi brandman’s argument was perfect, and stands both ways.

  • 10. Shmulie wrote:

    Why did the mother consent to her daughter attending Christian services in the first place? Maybe she is pyschologically disturbed.
    Can’t Rabbi Brandman help get the girl out of this situation? We count on Chabad to have institutions where a child like this can be protected from both of their parents!

  • 11. Milhouse wrote:

    #8, Since when do we not encourage geirus? Especially for a koton, who has not yet tasted taam aveirah, and is therefore less likely to backslide? If the father brought her to beis din to be megayer, and she was going to be raised to keep mitzvos, we would definitely support giyur over the mother’s objections.

    #9, There’s nothing special about baptism. The tevilah for “kol haporesh me’avoda zara” is based on the gemara that compares AZ to a meis. So it makes no difference whether one was shpritzed or not. In any case, it’s not a real halacha, just a medieval minhag.

    #10, it’s obvious that she consented to her attending services because she’s not religious, and didn’t see it as so terrible; but shmad is a different story entirely. Even an almost-completely secular Jew is afraid of shmad. There’s no basis for getting her out of the situation; you have two parents who both seem perfectly fit, so how are you going to convince any judge to take her away from both? And if you did somehow convince one judge, you’d inevitably lose the appeal, and the judge would be disciplined.

  • 12. Shmulie wrote:

    Milhouse, # 11, with all due respect, this is not a situation to just close eyes and shrug. The girl is Jewish, so a secular judge is not the ultimate authority. When Chabad helped a psychologically disturbed woman in Italy take her children to Russia, against the order of a judge that gave them to the non-Jewish father, you thought that was a great mitzvah. Is this situation any different? It is even worse! At least with the case in Italy, the father approved of the kids being Jewish. In this case the father is brainwashing the girl into being a Xtian.
    I don’t understand you.

  • 13. Milhouse wrote:

    Shmulie, what do you suggest we do? Kidnap the girl and raise her frum, while she’s kicking and screaming? She’ll call the police, and that will be the end of it!

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