Zionist Yemenite families struggle to escape Satmars

Jerusalem Post/June 16, 2004
By Nina Gilbert

Yahia Jaradi, a Yemenite Jew, has been waiting for 17 months to obtain a US visa so he can travel to the New York area to try to retrieve five of his children, taken by a US court and distributed among separate families in the anti-Zionist Satmar hassidic community.

Jaradi, 30, immigrated to Israel in 2001 to join his wife, Lauza. She came after one of her children went into a coma and later died after suffering an injury in her home. A court ruled that the children had been abused and gave custody of them to Satmar families.

Yesterday, Jaradi attended a meeting of the Knesset Immigration and Absorption Committee on the decade-old phenomenon of the Satmars taking Jews from Yemen and settling them in their communities in London and New York.

Shlomo Jarfi, a Yemenite activist, said that Jaradi needs to go to the US to petition for the return of the children, adding that his case against the Satmars who want to adopt them will be weakened the longer he is away from them. He said he believes that one child has already been legally adopted by a Satmar family.

According to Jarfi, Jaradi said he was forced to leave the US after his Satmar-sponsored student visa expired and he was left with no support from the community after his children were taken away. Jarfi blamed the Satmars for using their social workers to influence the local authorities to take the children.

Jaradi said he knows the whereabouts of each of the children, who are in Monsey and Monroe, New York. He now lives in Beit Shemesh and works as a kashrut supervisor at a supermarket in Jerusalem. Three of the children were born in the US and have US citizenship. According to Jaradi, the visa request has been delayed because of US security precautions.

US Embassy spokesman Paul Patin said Jaradi's case is "pending administrative processing." Shinui MK Ehud Rassabi, who is also of Yemenite origin, initiated the committee meeting after six members of the Nahari family arrived recently after managing to leave the Satmar community in Kiryas Joel in New York.

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