British rabbis criticize Austrian counterparts for shunning divorcee

Marcy Oster

(JTA) — Leading British rabbis criticized their Austrian counterparts for shunning an Orthodox British woman living in Vienna who lost custody of her children.

The rabbis from London, Liverpool, Reading and Manchester called on the Austrian Jewish community and its leaders to show support for Beth Alexander, who lost custody of her twin sons in 2013 by order of a court in Vienna following her divorce from Dr. Michael Schlesinger.

She can see her sons six nights a month, no weekends, and is required to pay maintenance, the British Jewish News reported.

“Beth Alexander is a warm, kind-natured and generous person who deserves to play a full and active role in bringing up her children,” the rabbis wrote. “We hope and pray that the natural maternal love that she has for them will ultimately break through the effects of this disgraceful injustice that she and her children have been forced to endure.”

The letter criticizes the Jewish community for having “not adequately supported a vulnerable and defenseless young woman.”

The rabbis state that “Schlesinger has been given opportunities to make life easier for Beth and the children, and yet appears to have deliberately ignored them. This gives the impression that his children are merely pawns in a spiteful game to make life for Beth a living hell.”

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