The Haifa Family Court has handed down a decision permitting a non-frum father to drive his frum children on Shabbos over the objections of their mother.
Justice Esperanze Alon removed a standing ruling that prohibited the father from driving the children on shabbos despite the fact the children are educated in a frum school. The court ruled the father has the right to drive on shabbos, stating “Married couples sometimes maintain different lifestyles and the children learn to take from both of the parents… The children have grown up with this reality and as such, have the maturity to address this religious complexity”.
As a result of the ruling, the divorce agreement stipulating the father may not take the children in a car on shabbos has been invalidated.
The mother, a physician, lives with her two children Yerushalayim. The father, a physician as well, lives in northern Israel and he is from a secular family, unlike the children’s mother who grew up frum. The dad wants longer visits with the children but the mother feared this would negatively impact their religious lifestyle.
The desire to raise the children in different lifestyles began while the two were still a couple and this issue now remains at the helm of the differences between the divorced parents.
The mother told the court she fears the father will not respect the values and lifestyle being inculcated in the children in her home and in their school. She hired a private detective and documented that during visits to dad’s home, the boy removes his yarmulke and tzizis, and drives with his dad on shabbos. The father however feels his lifestyle is his choice and the mother’s attempt to compel his actions represents religious coercion.
The court ruled the agreement compelling the father to keep shabbos in nothing less than coercion, and it infringes on his rights as a secular person. As such, the court reversed the decision but instructed the father to act responsibly and whenever possible, to avoid placing the children in a compromising situation and compel them to drive on shabbos against their will, their conscience and their education.
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)