Shuls collect donations for arrested Jerusalem 'starvation' mother

By Marcus Dysch and Anshel Pfeffer, July 30, 2009
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Donations were due to be collected in every strictly Orthodox synagogue in Stamford Hill yesterday to raise money for the family of a three-year-old boy allegedly starved by his mother in Jerusalem.

The toddler weighed just 14lb when he was admitted to hospital earlier this month.

The boy’s father grew up in the Stamford Hill community and his grandparents still live there.

Money was due to be collected following Tisha B’Av minchah services. Proceeds will be donated to the family to help pay for the mother’s legal costs and medical bills.

Organisers in London declined to comment on the fundraising effort, claiming the legal proceedings barred them from discussing the case with the media.

The mother was arrested a fortnight ago on suspicion of neglect. She is thought to suffer from Munchausen’s Syndrome by Proxy (MSP), which leads a person deliberately to injure another in order to gain attention.
She is now under house arrest and is being allowed to care for her four other children under supervision. She has not been allowed contact with the boy.

The little boy was released from Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem on Sunday. He was taken to an undisclosed hospital in the Tel Aviv area, after a court order ruled he could be moved to a different medical institution or be cared for by relatives.

It is thought his weight had increased to around 22lb when he was released.

In an interview with Ma’ariv, the mother insisted that she had not starved him and that “he had a failure of his immune system which caused malnutrition, temperature and vomiting and no-one knew what it was. The hospital tried all the tests and couldn’t identify his illness. I tried to ask the doctors questions, I wouldn’t keep quiet and lost faith in them,” she said.

There have been further arguments this week over the suitability of psychiatrist Dr Ya’akov Weill to examine the mother. He was hired by her defence team, and following a consultation said she was not suffering from MSP. He later retracted his evaluation, saying he did not have the necessary qualifications to determine whether it was safe for her to have contact with her other children.

Jerusalem’s district psychiatrist had rejected his initial findings and claimed that Dr Weill, who was fired last year from Hadassah Hospital and has been involved in a number of disputed diagnoses, was incompetent.
The Israeli state prosecutor’s office has now indicated that charges against the mother will be filed with the Jerusalem District Court.

Her arrest earlier this month led to rioting in some of Jerusalem’s strictly Orthodox neighbourhoods.

Last updated: 4:15pm, July 30 2009