Israeli Fathers Rights still plummeting as first step is criminalisation
Aaron is an American father. He made aliya to Israel. Here is his story of events as an example for others, and also to give a warning to men of what is inevitable in a marriage breakup in Israel. It may be long - but there are men who have thousands upon thousands of requests, decisons and accusations. This is his testimony. He believes he has had it 'easy' compared to others. His statement can of course be backed up by documents.
Shayna contacts social services (the revacha) in Marom Hagalil suffering from post partum depression following the birth of Yahli the previous summer. She is referred to the early child development branch (gil harach) in Tzfat under the care of social worker, Elisheva. She institutes a program of play therapy to help Shayna create a bond with the child Yahli.
Aaron joins therapy at the suggestion and invitation of Elisheva.
a) The supervising psychiatrist at Gil Harach declares Shayna has recovered from postpartum depression and asks about childcare arrangements for Yahli. When told that Aaron stays home with the child while Shayna works, the Psychiatrist begins explaining why it is socially better for the child to be put in a daycare and for both parents to work. When Aaron explains their view that it is important for parents to care for their children, the psychiatrists begins to attack Aaron for being different than the norm, and ultimately harming his kids.
b) The psychiatrist writes that Yahli is behind developmentally and orders a developmental therapy program be instituted involving both parents. Elisheva tells Shayna that she never suffered from post partum depression; rather she suffered from depression due to marital strife and offers to counsel the couple along with developmental therapy. Aaron disagrees with the need for developmental therapy, pointing out that every child develops at a different rate and so long as progress is being made, there is no need for alarmist social prognoses.
c) Shayna becomes verbally and emotionally abusive towards Aaron.
a) Shayna insists that Yahli be put in a daycare, claiming that under Aaron’s care Yahli isn’t developing correctly, word for word accusations made by the psychiatrist and social worker. Ironically, no developmental therapy was discussed with or instituted by the new childcare provider. Aaron begins working as a caregiver for a man with ALS.
b) Shayna openly attacks Aaron verbally and emotionally in front of the social worker. She calls him a bad father who cares nothing for his kids. When Aaron expresses hurt and pain by Shayna’s comments, the social worker states that Shayna has every right to express herself in such a manner and that Aaron should not react so strongly to Shayna’s attacks on him.
c) Aaron stops going to “therapy” with Elisheva and begins searching for private marriage counseling. Shayna says that she prefers working with the Revacha (social services) and doesn’t want to further explore the private route.
Following a verbal confrontation between Aaron and Shayna, Shayna calls Elisheva for counsel after Aaron leaves home at the request of Shayna. Elisheva counsels her to tell Aaron that if he returns home, she will call the police. Neighbors eventually calm her down and she invites Aaron back home. Aaron continues to try and persuade Shayna to go with him to marriage therapy outside of the social services, but Shayna is adamant to only work with the revacha.
a) Shayna physically attacks Aaron after he refuses to leave home following a verbal dispute. Upon realizing that Aaron will not leave on his own accord, she leaves home and contacts the social service office in Marom Hagalil. She is instructed to call the police and claim that Aaron attacked her. She calls Aaron with the police and social worker on the line asking Aaron why he attacked her. He reminds her that she attacked him, and he merely defended himself against her attack.
b) The police come and take Aaron to the Tzfat station for questioning. Aaron asks the police investigator what would happen if he claims that Shayna attacked him. The investigator responds that Shayna would be arrested and the children placed in foster care until the completion of the investigation. Aaron asks that even if he doesn’t want to press charges against Shayna, this will still happen? The investigator tells Aaron that if he doesn’t want his kids to be in foster care to not make any mention of it. Aaron then tells the investigator everything that happened, omitting Shayna’s physical attack on him. Following the investigation, the investigator tells Aaron that he would like to set him free, but needs the signature of the Captain to do so. The Captain calls Aaron into his office where he begins to accuse Aaron of being a liar and wife beater, saying that all the religious Jews are that way. He promises to put Aaron behind bars and make him pay.
c) Aaron is arrested and transferred to Tzalmon detention center to await arraignment. The following day the judge castigates the police for arresting Aaron. She orders a one week house arrest be arranged as an alternative to detention while the police close their investigation. No house arrest can be immediately arranged. Aaron is returned to Tzalmon awaiting arraignment the following day.
d) Aaron is returned to court where a new judge orders Aaron’s release with restriction from contacting his wife or being within 500 meters of their home for the next two months, setting a 7000 shekel bond on these terms. Aaron is released and escorted home by the police to gather clothing and other personal affects. Shayna is told by the police that she is not allowed to contact Aaron for two months on threat of imprisonment.
e) Shayna is raped by their landlord’s son in the following days and he begins harassing her and the children.
a) Aaron is contacted by the social services in Marom Hagalil. They tell him that he is an alcoholic, drug abuser, and violent man who needs to enter a program in his area to deal with these issues. He explains that all of these allegations are not true and that what he and his wife need is marriage counseling since she has become increasingly aggressive, violent , and paranoid following postpartum depression. He insists on seeing the same social worker as his wife in order to begin the much needed therapy. He is later contacted by social worker Iris Bamivhar from Marom Hagalil and invited to a first meeting. During this time Aaron is working in construction and begins sending Shayna cash to help her and the kids.
b) Shayna finds out that she is pregnant from the rape. She is counseled to not tell Aaron and encouraged to begin the process of abortion.
c) Aaron meets with Iris who informs him that it is against their protocols to have the same social worker meet with both husband and wife at this stage. Aaron insists on only speaking with the same social worker as his wife. Iris promises to arrange it.
d) Aaron meets with Shayna’s original social worker, but is not told that his wife has been transferred to Iris. Aaron explains to the social worker that Shayna has suffered from postpartum depression and had become violent with him. The social worker insists that any violence in the home is two sided and encourages Aaron to talk about his own violence, saying that the only way for her to realize her own violence is through Aaron’s example of realizing his. Though Aaron wants to do couples therapy, he is told that so long as there are restrictions placed on him by the court from being in contact with Shayna, they cannot counsel them together. The social worker reassures Aaron that his wife also wants couples counseling and that it will happen after the two months of restriction have past.
a) Aaron is contacted by Nof Hagalil elementary school and told that his daughter, Teneya (nine years old at the time), suffered a fall and head trauma while at school and is currently in Ziv hospital in Tzfat. Aaron goes to the hospital to be with his daughter. She explains that she had become dizzy while at school, tripped on a chair and hit her head when she fell. She also tells her father that her private area has been hurting, and it burns when she urinates. Aaron tells the doctor who orders a urine test to check for infection. Teneya asks her father to help her with the test. Aaron notices that her entire area is red and inflamed. Aaron begins to fear that his daughter may have been sexually abused. He talks with her about it, and she responds in a very distant way that she hasn’t been touched by anyone. Aaron talks with his lawyer who counsels him not to mention his concerns to the hospital staff, social workers, or police because he (Aaron) would be suspect number one. Later on the children explained to Aaron that the landlord’s son had been harassing them and entering their home at will.
b) On the eve of the Jewish new year, Teneya is released from the hospital into Aaron’s care. As they are getting into his car, Shayna arrives and tries to take Teneya from Aaron. Teneya wants to stay with her father. Shayna physically prevents Aaron from closing his door until he agrees to bring Teneya to her for the New Year. Aaron and Teneya go to get Teneya’s medication for her urinary tract infection. By the time Aaron returns Teneya to Shayna it is minutes before the start of the Jewish holiday and Aaron has no place to stay. Some friends help him, and tell him to come by in the morning and they will help him to get to see his kids on the holiday. While waiting in front of the friend’s house the following morning (unaware that Shayna is staying close by), Teneya, Puriel, and Hemdiya see him and ask if they can spend the morning with him. He tells them to ask their mother. She comes out and begins to threaten Aaron that she will call the police if he doesn’t go away. Aaron explains that he wants to take the kids back to where he is staying for breakfast and that he will return them after lunch. She agrees that the boys (Puriel  and Hemdiya [3}) can go with him and that she will arrange an opportunity for him to spend time with his daughters for a couple of hours in the afternoon. Aaron and his sons happily begin walking back to where he is staying.
Upon reaching the main street, a police jeep pulls up and two officers approach Aaron and his sons, yelling at Aaron. He and his sons are placed in the back of the jeep where the police officers begin yelling at the kids. The children are taken to an ally 200 meters from where their mother was staying. Even though they couldn’t get in touch with the mother, they told dispatch to keep trying to contact the mother and let her know that the children are at the entrance of the ally. They shout at the kids to get out, but the children do not want to leave their father, especially to be left alone in an ally without their mother. The police begin to forcefully pull the kids out of the car who are clinging to their father. The police tell the father that if he doesn’t want his kids to get hurt, he needs to tell them to obey. Aaron tells his kids to not be afraid and to go straight back to where their mother is staying together, reassuring them that they know the way. Aaron is taken to the police station where he is investigated and then released. The police tell him to stay as far away from Shayna as he can, and to even abandon his kids. They warn him that the laws and procedures in the country are against him, and that he will end up in jail if he doesn’t heed their advice.
c) Shayna files a restraining order against Aaron the following week. Aaron arrives in court, but Shayna doesn’t. The judge dismisses the restraining order. Aaron immediately calls Shayna, who doesn’t answer. Aaron then calls his social worker to tell her that there are no longer any restrictions on him. She asks him what he is going to do and he replies that he intends to return home. The social worker, displeased with his intended course of action, urges him not to go back home. Aaron returns to an empty house. Again he calls Shayna, who doesn’t answer. He then calls her sister and asks her to call Shayna and let her know that he has returned home and would like to talk to her. Shayna calls Aaron and tells him that she doesn’t want him home and that he should find another place to live. Aaron asks to see the kids. She tells him that she will only agree to bring the kids to see him at a park in Tzfat if he promises to not to stay home. Aaron agrees to take another apartment in the same building if Shayna will agree to go to couples therapy with him. She agrees and and tells him to meet her and his kids at a park in Tzfat. Aaron goes to the park and sees his kids. Shayna tells Aaron that she will not return home so long as he is there. Aaron tells her that he needs a couple of days to arrange for the new apartment and move his stuff in. She gets up to leave and tells the kids to go with her. Aaron explains to her that the children have school and that he can take them home and make sure they get to school in the morning.
She rejects the idea and orders the kids to go with her. Teneya refuses to go with her and says that she wants to stay with her father. When the other kids began saying that they wanted to go home with their father she forced them into her car and drove away, telling Aaron that she is going to the police. Only Teneya stayed with her father. Aaron and Teneya went to Aaron’s car and began driving back home. Shayna called Aaron and told him that Teneya had forgotten something in her car and that they should meet her back at the park so she could give it to Teneya. Upon arriving at the park, while still on the street, Shayna’s mother drives up in her car and Shayna forces Teneya into it, screaming at her mother to drive off before Teneya could get back out of the car. Aaron returns home.
d) Aaron is contacted by the Tzfat police that evening and served with a court summons and restraining order in the mean time. Later that night he contacted by the police a second time and ordered to leave his home. He explains to the police that the restaining order doesn’t mention his home. The officer tells him that his wife is waiting in her car with the kids to return home and what kind of father would make his kids sleep in the car. Aaron explains that Shayna’s parents live in Tiberius and that he is more than willing to take care of the kids at home. The officer tells him that he can either leave voluntarily, or they will petition the court the following day to amend the restraining order so that the mother could stay with the kids in their home. Aaron leaves his home.
a) Aaron goes to court and is served divorce papers and a suit for 13,000 shekels a month for child support by Shayna. Their highest joint income never exceeded 9000. The court grants her a restraining order.
b) Aaron begins working in Tzfat and rents an apartment. He begins depositing 3000 a month in his joint account with Shayna to help pay for her and the kid’s expenses. She also works full time, but opens her own account and transfers all of the money from the joint account to the her private one. She continues to use the joint account for all her expenses; she charges 7000 shekels a month to the account.
a) Aaron goes to court for the deciding of the child support suit. Shayna is granted a temporary child support amount of 3500 shekels a month. She also files for and is granted a stay of exit order on Aaron. He cannot legally leave the country. She continues to charge 7000 Shekels a month to the joint account.
b) Aaron goes to the rabbinical court for a hearing on divorce. He files for Shalom Bayit. They are ordered to go to counseling.
c) Aaron and Shayna are ordered to go to gishur by the family court.
a) Aaron’s grandfather dies. He petitions the court to allow him to leave to see his family, but they require a death certificate and two cosigners to allow him to leave. He is unable to meet the requirements.
b) Aaron and Shayna come to an agreement for child sharing through gishur.
c) Aaron and Shayna’s joint account is frozen. Though Aaron has been placing 3000 shekels/month in it for Shayna and the children, Shayna has created a debt of over 10,000 Shekels. When Aaron talks with the bank he is told that Shayna has a separate account with more than enough to cover the debt. Shayna refuses to pay her debt, insisting that Aaron is obligated to pay for her and the children’s entire expenses. When Aaron brings the issue up with social worker Iris Bamivhar, the current social worker responsible for the family, she tells him that Shayna is right and that Aaron should live in his car and give all of his money to Shayna.
Aaron and Shayna appear in court to decide child support issues. The court decides to defer the case until after the Rabbinical court decides the issue of divorce vs. shalom bayit. Temporary child support is left at 3500 shekels a month.
a) Shayna no longer wishes to continue the previous child sharing agreement. She files for a restraining order to prevent Aaron from coming to get the kids. She is granted the restraining order. The children continue coming on their own to be with their father who rents an apartment just down the street from their mother.
b) The Rabbinical court rejects Aaron’s suit for shalom bayit. He is ordered to give Shayna a divorce or face sanctions. Aaron explains that there are outstanding child custody issues. The Rabbinic court order Aaron and Shayna to gishur to decide the issues.
c) Aaron arrives for gishur, but Shayna is absent. The liaison attempts to get a hold of Shayna, but is unable.
a) Shayna moves to Tzfat to prevent the kids from coming to see their father. She files a suite for full custody and a request that the father only be allowed to see the children under the supervision of the social workers.
b) Aaron files a suite for full custody, claiming that the mother’s attempts to alienate him from his children is harming them and abusive.
a) Aaron and Shayna appear in court to decide custody and child support issues. The court orders gishur and a taskir from the social services in Tzfat.
b) Aaron arrives for gishur, but Shayna doesn’t. The liaison is unable to reach Shayna as before.
Aaron Divorces Shayna in the rabbinic court.
a) The social worker writing the taskir convinces Aaron to drop his suite for full custody in favor of joint custody. However, she writes that full custody should be given to the mother while Aaron be given wide visitation rights.
b) The judge, Arnon Kimelman, tells Aaron that if he insists on joint custody the court will obligate him in twice as much child support. When Aaron objects stating that he is unable to support two households, the judge tells him that he only needs to support Shayna’s house and not one for himself.
c) Aaron’s lawyer, Ziv Yair, asks the court for time to convince Aaron to accept the social worker’s suggestion. Later on she writes the court saying that Aaron accepts it, when in fact he insisted with her on joint custody.
a) The court awards Shayna full custody and obligates Aaron in 3500 shekels a month child support. His income is only 4000.
b) Shayna immediately files a restraining order and refuses to let Aaron see the kids. Shayna is granted the restraining order.
Shayna’s father attacks Teneya physically. She asks her father to take her to file a complaint with the police against him.
a) Aaron moves to Tzfat to be closer to the kids.
b) Aaron is injured on the job and is unable to continue working.
c) Shayna makes a trip to America and leaves the kids with Aaron.
a) Shayna files a claim in Hotzaa Hapoal for two years of child support against Aaron.
b) Shayna files a restraining order against Aaron to prevent him from seeing the kids during the summer, and she is granted it.
c) The court orders Aaron and Shayna to gishur to decide summer child arrangements. Once again Aaron shows up and Shayna doesn’t.
d) Aaron files a hardship suit with Hotzaa Hapoal due to his injury, inability to work, and lack of income. They reject it and threaten him with sanctions if he doesn’t pay.
e) Aaron contacts the Tzfat social services saying that he and his children are suffering from financial, emotional and psychological abuse from Shayna. They don’t get back to him for six weeks.
Shayna goes on another trip to America and insists on leaving the kids with a babysitter. The kids want to stay with their father, and the babysitter tells Shayna that she doesn’t want to keep the kids from their father. Shayna threatens Aaron that if he lets the kids be with him she will put him in jail and never let him see the kids again.
a) Shayna returns to Israel and leaves the children in the care of her parents for an afternoon. Teneya calls up her father and tells him that Puriel has run away from the house following an altercation with Shayna’s father. When Puriel comes to his father, he explains to him that his grandfather choked him and that’s why he ran away. Teneya confirms it.
b) Aaron calls Shayna’s father who refuses to speak to him.
c) Aaron calls Shayna who denies that anything happened, and accuses Aaron of beating the kids.
a) Aaron is contacted by the Tzfat police who ask him to come to the station to help them with an investigation. When Aaron replies that his car isn’t working, but can come in the morning, they offer to send a vehicle to get him. Aaron agrees.
b) Upon arriving at the police station Aaron is told that he’s not allowed to use his phone, nor allowed to leave. The start asking him what he has to say about being held by them. Aaron replies that he would like to know why. They tell him that he will find out when the investigator meets with him.
c) Upon meeting the investigator Aaron is give a form to sign which acknowledges that he has been placed under arrest. Aaron asks why he is being arrested and they tell him to sign the paper first and then they will tell him. Aaron refuses to sign until he has talked with a lawyer.
d) When the lawyer arrives, the police still refuse to tell he or Aaron why he is being arrested. She counsels him to sign the paper inorder to get on with the investigation.
e) The police accuse Aaron of beating his kids. When he denies it they play his a recording of a phone conversation between him and Shayna. No where in the conversation does Aaron say that he has ever hit his kids.
f) Aaron is arrested and transferred to Tzalmon detention center.
g) The police send a social worker to investigate the kids. They boys each claim that Aaron spanked them once for hitting each other, but that they miss him and want to be with him. Teneya explains that she saw their mother telling the boys the previous night what to say. The boys were 9 and 5 at the time. Teneya was 11.
h) Aaron is returned to the Tzfat police. They claim that the children all say that he beats them. When Aaron continues to proclaim his innocence, the investigator begins to verbally threaten and berate him. The police write that Aaron confesses to spanking his kids, and refuse to write Aaron’s statements. When told to sign, Aaron refuses to do so. The investigator threatens to hold Aaron in the police station indefinitely without his lawyer, water or food if he doesn’t sign. Aaron insists that the investigator add that Aaron objects to the manner in which the investigation is being handled and that the comments written above are not his. The officer adds it, and Aaron signs.
i) Aaron is returned to Tzalmon detention center.
j) When brought before the judge for arraignment, Aaron’s lawyer points out the discrepincies in the children’s stories, pointing out Teneya’s testimony that the mother told the boys what to say. The judge replies that any mother would do the same and returns Aaron to detention until a house arrest can be arranged.
Aaron is released to house arrest in Tekoa.
a) Aaron is released from house arrest on condition that he meet the owner of the house that he was arrested to twice a day, not enter the northern half of the country, nor be in any form of contact with his kids or Shayna.
b) Upon release from house arrest Aaron goes to pull money out of his bank account with the post office. He is told that his account has been blocked by hotzaa hapoal and no information can be given.
c) Aaron is ordered to the Sherut Hamivhan (jail social services) to determine whether or not to allow him back in Tzfat or to be in contact with his kids.
d) Upon arrival, the social worker begins accusing Aaron of beating his kids and his ex wife. She asks him more questions about Shayna then about the kids. She also explains that she has no idea what the court wants from her since it is not in her power to agree or disagree with the terms of his release.
e) The judge orders a second meeting with the Sherut Hamivhan since it is not clear whether or not Aaron should be allowed back into Tzfat or is a danger to the kids. Shayna’s social worker claims that Aaron is a danger since Shayna clearly is afraid of him.
a) Teneya calls Aaron crying and saying that she misses him. Aaron explains what has happened and that he misses her too. She begins sending him texts during the next couple of days and he answers. The texts stop.
b) Aaron is contacted by the Tzfat police and told that if he doesn’t come for an investigation he will be arrested. Aaron talks with his lawyer who counsels him to go and call her immediately upon arrival.
c) Aaron shows up for the investigation with his lawyer. She points out that the court order to not be in contact is only against the complainants, i.e. Shayna and the boys. The police tell Aaron to not answer any calls or messages from his kids or they will arrest him next time. Aaron is free to go.
d) Aaron asks his public defender to help him get to see his kids. She tells him it is the job of the Family lawyer. When Aaron requests the same from his family lawyer, she tells him that it is a job for the defense lawyer.
a) Aaron receives a letter from the family court asking for his response to a request made by Shayna a month ago to take the kids out of the country along with a suit to remove his rights as a father filed by Shayna. The letter arrives after Shayna has already left the country with the kids. Aaron files a report with the police, but the court had already given Shayna permission since Aaron had not objected. The court had ordered Shayna to deliver the request to Aaron. She mailed it after receiving permission from the court due to no objections.
b) Aaron returns to the Sherut Hamivhan. The social worker states that Shayna would obviously be unsterilized if Aaron is allowed back in Tzfat, and that the children suffer because of the fighting between him and Shayna. She tells the court that it is not in the best interest of the kids for their father to return.
a) Aaron returns to court for and indictment hearing. His lawyer has worked out a plea bargin that if he doesn’t accept, she says she has the authority to drop him as a client.
b) The lawyer asks the judge to be released from defending Aaron because he doesn’t want to admit to spanking his kids. She explains that the public defense office will not represent Aaron if he doesn’t take the deal. The judge tells Aaron that if he doesn’t admit to the charges against him he will bring the kids to court to testify against him and the mother, and that if he really cared about his kids he would do everything to keep them out of that situation. The prosecution says that part of the deal is that they will not request any punishment so long as Aaron admits. Aaron accepts the charges being made agaist him and is sent to the Sherut Hamivhan.
c) Aaron asks the judge to allow him to see his kids in a meeting center under the supervision of the social workers. The judge responds that he is not the address for such a request.
d) At the Sherut Hamivhan, Aaron is asked more about his ex wife and why they broke up. Aaron explains that Shayna is abusive and constantly tries to keep him from the kids. She writes that Aaron is a danger to society because he refuses to take responsibility for his actions.
a) The prosecution requests 18-20 months incarceration followed by community service. The defense requests immediate probation without incarceration or community service.
b) The judge orders Aaron to visit the office of community service to investigate the possibilities of community service.
c) Aaron files on his own a suit with the family court to see his kids
a) Aaron is contacted by Tzfat police and told that if he doesn’t pay hotza hapoal 5000 shekels for Shayna they will issue an arrest warrant.
b) Aaron tries to get a scooter license but is told that Hotza Hapoal has blocked his license and that he will be unable to even renew his license so long as hotzaa hapoal keeps it blocked.
Aaron goes to the community service office. The social worker explains that community service is difficult to do for someone without a family to support him, since he will not have time to work to support himself. Aaron accepts this answer. The social worker writes that Aaron refuses to participate in a community service program after promising to write him a good letter that will help him.
a) The judge in the criminal court eases Aarons restrictions, Allowing him back into Tzfat for the purpose of seeing his kids at a child contact centre under the supervision of the social services. The judge throws out the previous assessments made by the Sherut Hamivhan and the community service office, requesting new assessments be made by the offices in the north.
b) Aaron appears in family court with an assessment made by the social services in Tzfat that Aaron be allowed to meet his kids once a week at their contact centre. Shayna objects. The Family court asks for a second assessment, refusing to allow Aaron to see his kids at the contact center in the meantime.
Aaron files an appeal on the family court’s decision. In order to wave the court fees Aaron must bring proof that his bank account is blocked by hotzaa hapoal. Aaron goes to his bank to request a form stating that his account has been blocked. They tell him that they are unable to print out anything stating that his account is blocked because hotzaa hapoal doesn’t allow it when they block an account.
Aaron returns to family court with an assessment from the social services that his kids have been harmed by being cut off from their father. The family court requests that the criminal court rule that it is ok. The criminal court asks for the position of the state prosecution.
For hotzaat hapoal see: 21, 26, 31, 34
For stay of exit see: 10, 11
The picture taken 6 years ago, compared to now:
Fathers across Israel face similar if not worse scenarios, and have done their best to fight against a system which decrees them guilty and worthless as parents for nearly two decades.
But those who suffer most - are the children.