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February 27, 1987 - Image 41

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1987-02-27

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heir innocence was taken
away from them, and now
they want to take away their
Jewish heritage. The rabbi's voice
revealed the deep emotion he was
feeling, each word spoken slowly and
filled with pain.
Rabbi Chaim Bergstein of Bais
Chabad in Farmington Hills was
speaking about Stacy, 10, and her
half-sister, Lisa 7. Both were placed
in two non-Jewish foster homes and
taken to church by their foster par-
After hearing about the girls
from an acquaintance, Rabbi Bergs-
tein tried to get them placed in a
Jewish setting. State and private
agencies told him no Jewish foster
homes were available, or that Stacy
and Lisa's case was not theirs, and no
one could held him.
No matter where I turned, I met
a stone wall," the rabbi said.

or becoming foster parents. They
were discouraged by authorities, he
said, as were his attempts to arrange
for a Jewish education for the girls.
He finally decided to take his
case directly to the Jewish commu-
nity. In September he sent a letter
under the auspices of the Council of
Orthodox Rabbis, to all congrega-
tions in Greater Detroit outlining the
steps necessary to become a foster
parent. He received two responses,
but was told by state agencies that
neither individual was licensed nor
trained to take care of emotionally
disturbed and abused children.
When he asked whether he could
teach the girls himself at least once a
week, he was told a male teacher,
especially one the girls did not know,
would be too traumatic for them.
In addition to his own wish to see
Stacy and Lisa receive a Jewish edu-
cation, the rabbi noted that Jeanette

Two Jewish children, removed
from home by the courts,
are being taken to church
by their foster parents



Special to The Jewish News

Stacy and Lisa's mother, and both of her former husbands are
Jeanette, had been married and di- Jewish, and that Jeanette now wants
vorced twice. She married her first to see her girls raised as Jews, even
husband Bernard when quite young though they had no formal training
and had had two children — Ruth, in the past. It is not known if religion
now 15, and Stacy. When Jeanette preference was ever made known to
and Bernard divorced, she retained the authorities.
Rabbi Bergstein, in his efforts to
custody of both children. Jeanette
met and married Bob, and Lisa was stop the girls from being taken to
born. The marriage was not a happy church, was instrumental in having
this issue put on the agenda during a
one for Jeanette or daughter Ruth.
It was not until Ruth went to live court hearing. Although the judge
with her aunt in another state that ruled against the girls attending
she disclosed that Bob had molested church, the rabbi has not been con-
her. Police found that Bob had tacted about providing a teacher for
molested his stepdaughter and a them, nor has he been told whether
neighbor child. Bob is currently serv- they are receiving any Judaic train-
ing time in prison on both charges. ing.
Rabbi Bergstein feels that Stacy
Ruth never retured to her mother,
going to live instead with her father and Lisa will eventually be lost to the
and stepmother, who is not Jewish. Jewish people.
One social worker strongly dis-
It is not clear why Stacy was
taken away from her mother by Oak- agrees with the rabbi about
land County Protective Services. It is Judaism's priority in the girls' case.
thought that the charge was neglect, She stated that if an abused child
although Jeanette retained custody were placed in a home where religion
was compatible but the child's needs
of Lisa.
Lisa came to the attention of the were not being met, the child would
authorities when she was in first not care about religion unless it had
grade. She began taking her clothes previously been an important part of
off in class. Child abuse and possible the child's life.
She reiterated the opinions of
sexual molestation were suspected.
To keep the sisters together, Lisa other social workers that "A child's
and Stacy were placed in the same emotional needs must be met first,"
foster home. Later they were trans- adding "And religion must be a sec-
ferred to a second home. Neither fos- ond priority until the child is emo-
tionally ready and we can make it a
ter family was Jewish.
Rabbi Bergstein said a family top priority."
was interested in adopting the girls Continued on next page


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