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Custody fight focuses on religious traditions

A Chicago custody fight made headlines recently, not because it involved celebrities, but because the nature of the case is so unusual. When the couple divorced in 2007, they agreed to joint custody of their son. Now the boy's mother says their original custody agreement should be dissolved and she should be granted sole custody. The parents stipulated in the original agreement that the boy be raised Jewish. Unfortunately, they did not clarify just what that meant.

Both parents are now remarried. The mother's new husband is a Hassidic Jew, and she has adopted those traditions for herself and for her son, when he is with her. She keeps a kosher house, and the boy wears a yarmulke when he goes to school.

That's when he's with his mother. His father, a Roman Catholic who, according to news reports, "attends church on Christmas and Thanksgiving," has not been observing the mother's kosher traditions. According to the mother, the father refuses to keep kosher and refuses to make sure the boy wears his yarmulke to school.

The mother believes the father's attitude is sabotaging the boy's religious upbringing, and she believes his behavior is deliberate. She has accused him of intentionally feeding their son non-kosher foods.

For his part, the father maintains that the mother's devout Judaism is separating him from his son's life, and that her current practices are not what he had originally agreed to. When they were married, he said, they had not even observed the Jewish Sabbath.

We'll continue the story in our next post.

Source: Chicago Sun-Times, "Religion focus of custody fight involving former exotic dancer turned devout Jew," Lisa Donovan, 02/02/11

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