Judge Rules Dad Can Take Jewish Daughter To Church


In a divorce case that’s drawn national attention, a Chicago man who claims he has returned to his Catholic roots will be allowed to take his 3-year-old daughter to church, despite the objections of the girl’s Jewish mother, a Cook County judge ruled this afternoon.

Cook County Judge Renee Goldfarb previously had denied Joseph Reyes’ request to take his daughter Ela to Easter services, citing the pending divorce decree.

But Goldfarb said in a written divorce judgment today: “This court does not find, at this time, that it would be in the best interest of Ela to restrict Joseph’s visitation. He can take Ela to church services during his visitation time if he so chooses. This court will also order that Joseph have visitation with Ela every year on Christmas and Easter.”

Goldfarb said her decision to let Reyes take his daughter to church was based on “the best interest of the child.”

The judge said she found “no evidence . . . that taking 3-year-old Ela to church during Joseph’s visitation time is or would be harmful to Ela. She is three years old and, according to Joseph, while at church she waves at the other children, looks around and giggles. This court found that testimony credible.”

But, in her 30-page ruling dissolving Reyes’ six-year marriage to Rebecca Reyes, the judge also offered a stinging assessment of Joseph Reyes, a 35-year-old law student.

“Joseph, at times, seems to choose what is in the best interest of Joseph, rather than what is in the best interests of Ela,” the judge wrote.

She noted that he “chose” not to have visitation with his daughter for six months and also “not to get a job to help support Ela.”

The judge also was critical of Reyes’ efforts to publicize his case, which included bringing along a TV news crew when he took the girl to church in defiance of a court order.

“Joseph chose to make three-year-old Ela the center of his own media event, as seen on every local news channel, print media and national news channels during his visitation,” Goldfarb wrote. “Joseph chose to dispense three-year-old Ela’s picture to the media.”

Rebecca Reyes, who has sole custody of Ela, is Jewish. Joseph Reyes is a Catholic who converted to Judaism after Ela was born.

Rebecca Reyes said the couple agreed to raise the girl in the Jewish faith. But Joseph Reyes said that he’d felt pressured by his in-laws to convert and that, once the couple split, he returned to his Catholic roots.

Joseph Reyes had the child baptized at a south suburban Catholic church in November and sent photos of the event to the girl’s mother, escalating their divorce battle.

Rebecca Reyes then got a restraining order that ordered the father not to expose the child to any religion other than Judaism. That order has now been lifted.

Click HERE for the court ruling.

(Source: Chicago Sun Times)


  1. Judge Renee Goldfarb, Could be Jewish, likely not frum.
    Never trust a non religious Jew to make any permanent rulling favoring a religious Jew in terms of how the non religious Jew or non Jewish divorcing ex-partner, will raise the child, in terms of religion.

    “But, in her 30-page ruling dissolving Reyes’ six-year marriage to Rebecca Reyes, the judge also offered a stinging assessment of Joseph Reyes, a 35-year-old law student.”

    But still he gets custody on Xmas and Easter with no restrictions on taking her to church.
    And quite obviously she in only 3 ‘now’ she will grow and learn and be indoctrinated in a religion that is not hers.

    But the mother also brought it on herself when she married a non Jew in the first place.

    I’m sure at the time, she was so certain that it “makes no difference”.

    “love conuqers all”

    Then there is the oft quoted, John Lennon “all you need is love”.

    Well here (at least in this case) is the result of such thinking.

  2. Oy Vey the poor little girl. How shocking the judge is also a jew. The mother needs to find a good lawyer and challenge the judges ruling. Hashem should help the mother and daughter.

  3. a Jewish Judge should have recused them self from this case… this is no different than Goldstone… a Jew harming another Jew… this is a chillul Hashem… both judges will have some explaining to do when they reach Shemayim

  4. Do you think any Jewish girls about to marry a non Jew are taking a lesson from this story? Or are they just saying my guy is different he “really” wants to be Jewish. (What a bitter joke)

  5. I am not American, but I have read a string of news articles on YWN that show that the “fair” judiciary has a bit of disdain for Judaism. The trials I heard about are the Rubashkin, the death row prisoner, and now this one, not to mention the attitute of the president and his side kick to Israel.

    My American fellow Jews, if the judges in your adopted (but not real) home favour their liberal values to our Toras Emes, does this not ring bells that it could be time to talk to Nefesh b’Nefesh and plan your next, and hopefully final, journey on the Jews’ wandering path?

  6. It is highly unlikely from the facts in the article that his conversion was even arguably valid.

    By having children with a goy, the mother brought this upon herself. Under the goyim’s law, there is no preference to either parent’s religion.

    Also one shouldn’t assume the judge is Jewish, since “Goldfarb” without knowing something about her ancestry. The name “renee” hardly suggests someone Jewish, and a woman’s surname reflects her husband or father, not her maternal grandmother.

  7. This is why Jews should not go to secular court unless a rav or posek (who does not have a vested interest) approves and even then it should only be on aspects that are not specific to Halacha. 3 years ago I was cheated by synagogue that claimed to be part of two Orthodox organizations. I found out later it was no longer part of one of them, that it was not to be using the name because the so-called rabbi had been Mesarev L’Din. I asked 3 different rabbonim if I was required to go to Bet Din. In that case I was told no because the synagogue had repeatedly demonstrated contempt for Bet Din. But did not go to court. Instead I filed a complaint to the NV Bureau of Consumer Protection strictly to the fact the synagogue was using the name of an organization it was no longer authorized to use.

  8. BTW, in retaliation the synagogue filed a lawsuit against me using a forged document and “psak” from a rabbi who was personally involved and who had testified incorrectly in the case where the synagogue’s rabbi ignored the rulings of the Bet Din. The synagogue’s rabbi even went so far as to demand a jury, in a city of gamblers, compounding the Chillul Hashem.

  9. UKbloke (#7): Good points. I quote from Rabbi Pinchas Winston’s commnetary to this week’s sedrah:

    “…It seems that, for the most part, only God can take the Jew out of exile and exile out of the Jew…”

    “…If the only way to get the Jew to leave denial is by making his reality inescapable, then that is what Heaven will do, and has done countless times throughout Jewish history. And, that is what Heaven is poised to do once again, as we, the Jewish people find ourselves in one of our historically favorite places: denial.

    That is why the Metzora was not allowed to decide his status for himself. Rather, he had to consult a kohen, who had to come and check out the Divine signs, to see if what he had was simply some kind of mold, or actual tzara’as. For, when it comes to Hashgochah Pratis, especially regarding Divine decrees, human logic takes a backseat to Divine signs, which can only be recognized, understood, and interpreted based upon Torah tradition…”

  10. not that i am justifying her marriage but it says that “a Chicago man who claims he has returned to his Catholic roots” implying that he got a “conversion” from somewhere so its possible that in her mind she was marrying a jew

  11. #7 – In a perfect world, you would be 100% correct. However and unfortunately the problem is not with the judicial system here in the US.