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Case of Aron Goldberger

Baltimore, MD; New Jersey; England and Israel

If you have materials related to this case, or full copies of the following newspaper articles or court decisions please forward to the Awareness Center.

"Mrs. Goldberger is the daughter of Rabbi Moses Eisemann, who is well known in American Orthodox Jewish circles. Under the terms of the 1980 marriage, Mr. Goldberger was to be a religious scholar and, following custom, the Eisemann family and the Orthodox community would support the couple and their family, according to court records."

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Table of Contents:  

  1. Family Feud: The local, and international, Orthodox Jewish community is buzzing about a controversial child abduction and abuse case against a Torah scholar.  (10/02/1992)

  2. A family's nightmare touches 3 continents  (10/15/1992)

  3. Goldberger v. Goldberger  (05/28/1993)

  4. Talmudic scholar rejects abuse case plea bargain (06/08/1993)

  5. Scholar in molestation case receives probation (01/11/1994)

  6. Milestones From 5753 (09/10/1994)

  7. What steps have been taken to protect Aron Goldberger's present community?  (12/22/2004)

Other Related Cases:

  1. Case of Rabbi Eliezer Eisgrau

  2. Case of Moshe Eiseman

Also see:  

  1. The Awareness Center's Brochure  

  2. Rabbis, Cantors and Other Trusted Officials

  3. Domestic Violence in Jewish Communities

  4. Offenders: Problems Our Parents Wouldn't Speak Of

  5. Articles About Sex Offenders and Pedophilia

  6. Rabbis, Cantors and Other Trusted Officials

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Family Feud: The local, and international, Orthodox Jewish community is buzzing about a controversial child abduction and abuse case against a Torah scholar.

By Alan H. Feiler

Baltimore Jewish Times - October 23, 1992, Vol. 207; No. 9; Pg. 21,

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A family's nightmare touches 3 continents

by Jay Apperson, Staff Writer

The Baltimore Sun - October 15, 1992

Allegations of child-snatching and molestation are not unheard of in custody fights. So why have Orthodox Jewish leaders in three states and on three continents become so deeply involved in the case of Goldberger vs. Goldberger, a husband-wife battle being played out in Baltimore courtrooms?

The answer, in one sense, is simple: Both husband and wife have roots in a New Jersey town that is home to the world's largest rabbinical college. And they lived in Israel and England before moving into Baltimore's close-knit Orthodox Jewish community.

But the reasons go deeper than that. Goldberger vs. Goldberger has aroused passions in Jewish communities from Northwest Baltimore to Jerusalem because it apparently violates two fundamental principles of Orthodox Jewish law. The law forbids one Jew from participating in the jailing of another and discourages Jews from airing disputes in public courts. That's what a Beth Din, or rabbinical court, is for.

In this bitter family conflict, Mr. Goldberger has been indicted on charges of kidnapping and molesting his children. He has countered with charges that his wife, who has pressed the case against him, is mentally ill.

``It's hard for anyone to know what was going on behind closed doors,'' said Eliyohu Krohn, speaking about the case before a recent prayer service at Congregation Machzekai Torah off Park Heights Avenue. Still, he said, ``There was no reason for anyone to take it out on the street. That's the pain here.''

Before Aron and (wife) Goldberger began trading public accusations their arranged marriage was as traditional as any within the Orthodox Jewish community.

Mrs. Goldberger is the daughter of Rabbi Moses Eisemann, who is well known in American Orthodox Jewish circles. Under the terms of the 1980 marriage, Mr. Goldberger was to be a religious scholar and, following custom, the Eisemann family and the Orthodox community would support the couple and their family, according to court records.

``She was and is a beautiful woman and I fell in love with her immediately,'' Mr. Goldberger wrote in 1990, when he still held out hope for a reconciliation.

The couple had two girls while living in New Jersey and three boys after moving to Jerusalem in 1983, court records show. With the couple expecting a sixth child in 1989, pediatricians examining the boys, ages 5, 4 and 2, discovered evidence of physical abuse and reported it to social service workers, said Mrs. Goldberger's lawyer, Susan Carol Elgin.

Mr. Goldberger, however, maintains that he is innocent and that it was members of the Eisemann family who called Social Services in October 1989, making public an allegation that he and others believe should have been kept within the Jewish community.

A month later, Mr. Goldberger and four of the children, including the boys, moved back to Israel. Although he says he left with his wife's blessing, he was later indicted on kidnapping charges.

Mrs. Goldberger paid private investigators to track her husband and children, who passed through Belgium and eventually landed in London. Word of case spreads

After Mrs. Goldberger moved to England, a Beth Din there gave her custody of the children in July 1990 and directed Mr. Goldberger to give his wife a divorce under Jewish law, an order he ignored. By then, the wife had filed for a civil divorce in Baltimore courts. The husband responded by seeking visitation rights and saying his wife was mentally ill.

Word of the case traveled in Orthodox circles, with the wife producing affidavits from rabbis and former classmates of Mr. Goldberger in New York, New Jersey, Indiana, Israel and Baltimore to back her claim that he used his religion as an excuse to avoid work.

``He strikes me as a stubborn and obstinate fanatic,'' Rabbi Yisroel Reznitsky, executive director of the Torah Institute of Baltimore, wrote in one affidavit. ``I have never known him to do an 'honest day's labor' and am not sure about his true religiosity which he purports.''

Claims that Mr. Goldberger is a religious fraud are ``ill-founded,'' said William T. Kerr, who represents him in the civil proceedings. ``I don't mean to say he's not capable of being manipulative, but I think in his mind his pursuit of religiosity is genuine.''

As word of the dispute spread, leaders in Baltimore's Orthodox community began taking sides. Last year, more than 20 rabbis signed a petition, hung in Baltimore synagogues, questioning the sincerity of Mr. Goldberger's religious beliefs.

The petition, printed in Hebrew, reads in part: ``It is also a commandment for each and everybody to distance him, and it is forbidden to befriend him, and nobody should have any business with him at all, except of those relatives after whom he has to mourn.''

Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb of Congregation Shomrei Emunah said he signed the petition because Mr. Goldberger reflected poorly on the Jewish community. ``My own personal feeling is when the man was ordered to do something by a rabbinical court and the Circuit Court, he should do so or he'll have to face the consequences,'' the rabbi said.

Interest in the case extends half a world away. An Oct. 2 article in the weekly newspaper In Jerusalem notes that Mrs. Goldberger's father, Rabbi Eisemann, has incurred the wrath of some followers for taking a family squabble to the secular courts -- and for allegedly reporting his son-in-law to Baltimore Social Services workers.

``Wanted posters denouncing his action have been plastered throughout'' religious neighborhoods in Jerusalem, the article states.

Menachem Friedman, professor of sociology at Bar Ilan University in Jerusalem and an expert on the ultra-Orthodox, said the strong feelings surrounding the issue can be traced to ancient times. In those days, Jews kept their conflicts internal because going before a gentile court and swearing before a non-Jewish god was to recognize a gentile sovereignty.

The most amazing reflection of the widespread interest in the case, say the Baltimore lawyers in the custody fight, is the ability of two people who do not hold jobs to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars to continue their legal battles.

(wife) Goldberger, 31, finds raising six children to be a full-time pursuit and apparently gets money for legal fees from her family, said Ms. Elgin.

Mr. Kerr said Mr. Goldberger, also 31, cannot easily find work because he has been ostracized in the Jewish community and because his customs and appearance would make it difficult for him to find work elsewhere. ``Aron has his black robes that he wears and they're all he owns. He's not your average member of the community,'' Mr. Kerr said.

Mr. Kerr and other lawyers for Mr. Goldberger are paid by his backers in England and New Jersey. It's money that could be better spent, argue Mrs. Goldberger's attorney and a lawyer appointed by the court to represent the six children.

``This man has raised over $150,000 in a year's time -- for what?'' said Ms. Elgin. ``His children need therapy for what they've gone through. He hasn't paid a dime for that. Yet he fights on. What's his cause?''

Fund-raising efforts for Mr. Goldberger's legal efforts are coordinated by Michael Rottenberg, a board member of Beth Medrash Govoha, the Lakewood, N.J., rabbinical college. ``Unjustifiably humiliated''

``I really felt he was unjustifiably humiliated to the lowest level a human being can be,'' said Mr. Rottenberg, who said he did not know Mr. Goldberger before he was asked by both sides to mediate the dispute. He added, ``The children are not deprived. Whatever they had before, they have now, even more.''

He said the Orthodox Jewish community was largely on the wife's side when the matter first became known, but since then ``even the people who think he may have done something wrong feel he should not be in jail.''

Last month, Baltimore Circuit Judge Edward J. Angeletti sentenced Mr. Goldberger to three years for contempt of court for ignoring an order to pay more than $4,000 a month in child support. That sentence was stayed after Mr. Goldberger's lawyers filed an appeal, but he was locked up again when the child-abduction charges, which had been placed on the inactive docket in 1991, were reactivated by a prosecutor. Mr. Goldberger spent three weeks in jail before he was released on $50,000 bail -- just in time to observe Rosh Hashana. His kidnapping trial is scheduled for Oct. 26.

Mr. Goldberger was indicted Oct. 1 on sexual abuse charges, even as supporters in Baltimore and London negotiated with a rabbi in New York to try to find a way to settle the matter. He surrendered at the Baltimore police Central District last Thursday morning -- a day after he observed Yom Kippur by praying at Congregation Machzekai Torah.

After spending most of three days behind bars, Mr. Goldberger was released Saturday on $50,000 bail. He is scheduled to be arraigned Oct. 22 on the sexual child abuse charges.

Doug Struck of the Jerusalem Bureau contributed to this article.

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Goldberger v. Goldberger

Goldberger v. Goldberger, No. 1395, September Term, 1992, COURT OF SPECIAL APPEALS OF MARYLAND,

96 Md. App. 313; 624 A.2d 1328; 1993 Md. App.

LEXIS 96, May 28, 1993, May 28, 1993, Filed

OVERVIEW: The lower court erred in determining that former husband's potential income was $ 60,000 per year, based solely on his ability to raise funds to carry on litigation.

CORE TERMS: impoverished, child support, pre-trial, guideline, custody, recusal, calculate, duty, bias, recusal motion ... (more)

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Talmudic scholar rejects abuse case plea bargain

Fall trial date set; new charges likely

The Baltimore Sun - June 8, 1993

Edition: FINAL, Section: NEWS, Page: 3B

By Jay Apperson

A custody battle that has aroused passions in Orthodox Jewish communities from Northwest Baltimore to Jerusalem took yet another turn yesterday when a self-described religious scholar charged with molesting his children rejected a plea bargain that would have allowed him to avoid jail.

``I have nothing to hide,'' Aron Goldberger said after turning down an offer that the presiding judge described as one step from an outright dismissal of kidnapping and child abuse charges. A Sept. 13 trial date in Baltimore Circuit Court was set, and the prosecutor promptly said he would likely file additional abuse charges against Mr. Goldberger.

The charges stem from a husband-wife battle being played out in Maryland courtrooms but being followed by Jewish leaders in three states as well as England and Israel.

Allegations of child-snatching and molestation are not unheard of in custody fights. But as Michael Rottenberg, a board member of a Lakewood, N.J., rabbinical college and one of Mr. Goldberger's key supporters, noted yesterday, they are almost unheard of in an Orthodox Jewish society that prefers to mediate its disputes internally and not in the secular courts.

Also yesterday, Mr. Goldberger's lawyer, Assistant Public Defender Patrick O'Guinn, filed a motion to allow into evidence polygraph test results showing Mr. Goldberger was truthful when he denied sexually abusing any of his sons.

Yesterday's actions came 10 days after a state Special Appeals Court affirmed a Circuit Court order granting the couple a divorce and giving custody of their six children to (wife) Goldberger.

In September 1992, Baltimore Circuit Judge Edward J. Angeletti had ordered Mr. Goldberger to pay more than $4,000 a month in child support. In the May 28 opinion, the Court of Special Appeals overturned the support order, ruling that Judge Angeletti erred in calculating support payments based on the amount Mr. Goldberger was able to raise for his legal battles.

Mr. Goldberger has explained his never having held a paying job by saying his marriage contract called for his family to be supported by his in-laws and other members of the community while he was a full-time Talmudic scholar.

In ordering the Circuit Court to determine a new amount of support, the Appeals Court agreed Mr. Goldberger had ``voluntarily impoverished'' himself despite his obligation to financially support his children.

The opinion quoted from the musical ``Fiddler on the Roof,'' saying the fictional lead character Teveya recognizes that a life of study is a luxury when he sings, ``If I were a rich man, . . . Wouldn't have to work hard, . . . I'd discuss the holy books with the learned men seven hours every day.''

Mr. Goldberger, 33, had been scheduled to stand trial for kidnapping and child abuse last week, but lawyers reported they were close to reaching a plea agreement.

To an assault charge Mr. Goldberger would be allowed to enter an ``Alford'' plea, in which a defendant acknowledges the existence of sufficient evidence to convict and pleads guilty but is allowed to maintain his innocence.

In return, he would have received probation before judgment, meaning he would have no criminal record if he successfully completed three years of probation, and other charges would have been dropped.

Given the weekend to ponder the offer, Mr. Goldberger turned it down.

Afterward, prosecutor William Guiffre testily accused Mr. Goldberger of ``playing games,'' an accusation seconded by Susan Carol Elgin, lawyer for (wife) Goldberger.

Ms. Elgin said the offer had the endorsement of Mr. Goldberger's former wife. ``As long as the children are protected, she has no desire to see him in jail,'' Ms. Elgin said. ``We would like to see him out, employed, furnishing some financial assistance to the children.''

Ms. Elgin said Mrs. Goldberger and the children live in Baltimore and receive public assistance.

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Scholar in molestation case receives probation

By Jay Apperson, Staff Writer

January 11, 1994

Edition: FINAL, Section: NEWS, Page: 3B

A bitter domestic battle that has aroused passions in Orthodox Jewish communities from Northwest Baltimore to Jerusalem moved a step closer to resolution, as a self-proclaimed religious scholar charged with molesting his children received probation before judgment for assault.

Prosecutors dropped sexual child abuse charges against Aron Goldberger when he pleaded guilty to assault last week in Baltimore Circuit Court. Mr. Goldberger entered an Alford plea, in which a defendant declines to plead guilty but concedes that the evidence is against him.

The conviction was struck when Judge Elsbeth L. Bothe granted probation before judgment, prosecutor William J. Giuffre said.

Under the terms of his probation, Mr. Goldberger, 34, cannot have any contact with his six children and must receive psychiatric therapy, the prosecutor said.

Mr. Goldberger had been charged with sexually abusing three of his sons, ranging in ages from 2 to 5, in 1989.

Mr. Giuffre said a major reason he agreed to the plea bargain was that he feared that the children would be traumatized by testifying against their father.

The charges stemmed from a husband-wife battle played out in Maryland courtrooms but followed by Jewish leaders in three states as well as in England and Israel.

In May, a state Special Appeals Court affirmed a Circuit Court order granting the couple a divorce and giving custody of their six children to their mother, (wife) Goldberger.

Ms. Goldberger's lawyer, Susan Carol Elgin, said that her client is still seeking child support payments from Mr. Goldberger, who she says has made no such payments.

Mr. Goldberger has said that he has not made child support payments because he does not have a paying job.

Mr. Goldberger said that his marriage contract called for his family to be supported by his in-laws and other members of the community while he was a full-time Talmudic scholar.

Allegations of molestation are not unheard of in custody fights.

But as Michael Rottenberg, a board member of a Lakewood, N.J., rabbinical college and one of Mr. Goldberger's key supporters, has noted, they are almost unheard of in an Orthodox Jewish society that prefers to mediate its disputes internally and not in the secular courts.

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Milestones From 5753:

A look back at the politics, quotes, good deeds and not-so-good deeds that made it a year to remember.

By Arthur J. Magida

Baltimore Jewish Times - September 10, 1993, Vol. 213; No. 2; Pg. 64,1093BJLR 025 000078

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What steps have been taken to protect Aron Goldberger's present community?

Protocols - November 22, 2004

http://protocols.blogspot.com/

What steps have been taken to protect Aron Goldberger's present community?

The answer is not to shift the problem. Not to use batei din. Not to fight clergy mandated reporting laws.

The answer is support:

  1. Requiring laws to report suspicions of abuse.

  2. Respecting such laws.

  3. Allowing professionals trained in investigate such cases to investigate such cases without interference.

  4. Co-operating with the police and child family services.

  5. Supporting jailtime for our sexual predators instead of a plane ticket to Israel or probation.

Family Feud: The local, and international, Orthodox Jewish community is buzzing about a controversial child abduction and abuse case against a Torah scholar.

by Alan H. Feiler, Baltimore Jewish Times. Baltimore: Oct 23, 1992.Vol.207, Issue 9; p. 21

The local, and international, Orthodox Jewish community is buzzing about a controversial child abduction and abuse case against a Torah scholar.

Baltimore's observant Jewish community is still reeling from the dizzying charges and political intrigues resulting from a bitter child custody, abduction and sexual abuse case being played out in local courts.

"I think you could easily write a novel about this," said one member of the Orthodox community. "There are so many twists and turns in the context of this passion play. Everybody just went overboard. I've never seen anything this extensive."

The case of Goldberger vs. Goldberger is being closely watched on several levels: the disintegration of a prominent family; the inability of the insular observant community to deal with its problems without allowing them to spill over to the secular world; the involvement of various factions of world Orthodox Jewry; and rivalries between old and new guards of Baltimore's observant community.

The case centers around Aron and (Name Removed) Goldberger, who married in August 1980, have six children and lived in Israel from 1983 to 1988. Mrs. Goldberger is the daughter of Rabbi Moshe Eisemann, a leader of the Beth Medrash Govoha Yeshivah in Lakewood, N.J., the world's largest rabbinical college. Aron Goldberger, 33, is a Torah scholar from Monsey, N.Y., who is well-connected with Rabbi Shlomo Auerbach, one of Israel's ultra-Orthodox leaders.

According to court records and local Orthodox Jews familiar with the case, the couple's pre-arranged marriage stipulated that Mrs. Goldberger's family promised that Mr. Goldberger would be financially supported to study Torah indefinitely in a kollel, or graduate program, in yeshivahs in the United States and Israel.

Details on what led to their breakup appear sketchy -- with both sides claiming the other spouse was mentally unstable -- but it seems that while staying with Mrs. Goldberger's sister in Baltimore in November 1989, (Name Removed) Goldberger decided to part ways with her husband, Aron. Some say that Mrs. Goldberger's reluctance to move back to Israel -- her husband's desire -- was the final bone of contention.

She left a farewell note for him saying she was taking their youngest son and asked that their four other children be left with her sister or with Mr. Goldberger's cousins who live in Baltimore. Mr. Goldberger searched for his wife for a week and on instructions from his rabbinical mentor, a rabbi in Belgium, decided to take his children to Israel. Pointing out that Mrs. Goldberger, by her own accounts, moved six times between November 1989 and July 1990, attorneys for Mr. Goldberger claim he was unable to know where to return the children to her.

Only a month earlier, while the Goldbergers were expecting their sixth child, court records show Mrs. Goldberger's sister noticed "inappropriate behavioral responses" from their three young sons. She had a local pediatrician examine the boys. The pediatrician found evidence of sexual abuse.

After consulting with a local Beit Din, or Orthodox rabbinical court, the pediatrician was advised to report his findings to the Maryland Department of Social Services. Mr. Goldberger was scheduled to be arraigned on child abuse charges Oct. 22 at Baltimore City Felony Arraignment Court. His attorney, Phillip G. Dantes, said Mr. Goldberger "vehemently" denies the child abduction and sexual abuse allegations.

When Mr. Goldberger returned to Israel with four of his children, he said he had received his wife's blessings, as well as his rabbi's. But he was later indicted on abduction charges that are scheduled to be heard Oct. 26 in Baltimore City Criminal Court.

What is unique in this case is the attention it has received in Orthodox circles around the world and the large sums of money that have been raised for legal fees on behalf of a couple with no income.

Mr. Goldberger has been imprisoned and bailed out of jail twice by supporters from around the world who have allegedly contributed over $150,000 for the Torah scholar's legal fees and other expenses.

Mrs. Goldberger and her family reportedly have paid $70,000 of their $100,000 bill for legal and psychiatric fees.

The domestic fight is now pending before the Maryland Court of Special Appeals, and Mrs. Goldberger's lawyers claim she and her six children are living on public assistance. Mr. Goldberger is unemployed and living with a relative in Baltimore.

According to court records, Mr. Goldberger moved the children around from Israel to France, Belgium and England, sometimes staying with some of Mrs. Goldberger's relatives. With the help of private investigators, Mrs. Goldberger tracked down her husband and children in London in the summer of 1990. She and her husband asked a Beit Din there to rule on a divorce and child custody case.

In November 1990, the London Beit Din gave Mrs. Goldberger custody of the children, and ruled that her husband must give his wife a get, or Jewish divorce, and only visit the children while under supervision. The Beit Din also ruled that Mrs. Goldberger did not have to move with her children to Israel, as her husband insisted. Mr. Goldberger refused to adhere to the rulings of the Beit Din.

In December 1990, according to court records, Mr. Goldberger and some of his friends were arrested by British police when they allegedly broke into a London house where his wife and children were staying and tried to re-kidnap his offspring. They were held in custody until his wife and children returned to the United States a few days later.

After Mrs. Goldberger and their children returned to Baltimore, to be followed by her husband, the family approached a Beit Din here consisting of rabbis Yaakov Hopfer of Shearith Israel, Moshe Heinemann of Agudath Israel and Tzvi Hersh Weinreb of Shomrei Emunah.

According to Rabbi Weinreb, the Baltimore Beit Din supported the findings of the London Bet Din. He said that when Mr. Goldberger still refused to comply with the rulings of the Beit Dins, the Baltimore group passed around a notice in August 1991 declaring him "persona non grata" in local synagogues, meaning that he was not welcome to worship in Orthodox congregations. Six months ago, when Mr. Goldberger finally agreed to comply with the rulings, Rabbi Weinreb said most of the 20 rabbis who originally signed the document removed their names.

While many Orthodox Jews in the community view the document as a cherim, or excommunication, Rabbi Weinreb said it is only a demonstration of unity among rabbis to "shun" a tainted member of the community. Rabbi Weinreb said this is the first "shunning" that he has been involved in since coming to Baltimore a number of years ago.

"A lot of disputes of this kind are better handled at a community level," he said. "We're in a better position to determine the truth."

But some Orthodox Jews here are highly critical of the Baltimore and London Beit Din decisions, claiming that charges against Mr. Goldberger were trumped up by his wife and family to gain custody of the children. And in the Beit Din documents they say rabbis forbade members of the religious community from housing, feeding, transporting or employing Mr. Goldberger, thereby making it impossible for him to live in a manner suitable for an observant Jew.

In September, Baltimore Circuit Judge Edward J. Angeletti, who has described Mr. Goldberger in the past as "duplicitous and very devious," sentenced him to three years in prison for contempt of court for ignoring orders to pay over $4,000 a month in child support. The sentence was stayed after Mr. Goldberger's attorneys filed an appeal.

But prior to Rosh Hashanah, Mr. Goldberger spent three weeks in jail on child abduction charges until his supporters were able to post $5,000 of his $50,000 bail. He was also indicted on Oct. 1 on child sexual abuse charges and imprisoned the day after Yom Kippur, spending three days in jail until he was released on $50,000 bail.

While opinions vary on the case, some local Orthodox Jews condemn Mr. Goldberger's jailing and believe powers outside of Baltimore are "out to get him."

Many people in the community are also upset that the case is now in State courts. For one thing, they say, it violates a Jewish law forbidding one Jew from participating in the jailing of another. "When I saw this bearded man in shackles from head to foot, I was more convinced than ever that he shouldn't be in jail," said a member of the community with legal expertise.

This source believes the Goldberger case has become part of a power struggle between several of the newer Orthodox rabbis in town who maintain strong ties with the Lakewood yeshivah, and rabbis here aligned with Baltimore's Ner Israel Rabbinical College, which by comparison is more liberal in that, for example, it allows its students to attend secular college.

Some of the Lakewood-affiliated rabbis are said to be sympathetic to Mrs. Goldberger in the dispute out of respect for her father, a leading scholar at the Lakewood yeshiva.

Mr. Goldberger's supporters say they want a trial to expose some of the "dirty tricks" that have been used to pressure him into complying with the rabbinical, and court, rulings.

They also say Mrs. Goldberger's side is scrambling to get the State to drop charges now that the matter has become an international crisis, with posters of Rabbi Eisemann in yeshivahs in Israel and the United States charging that he took the issue outside of the Jewish community.

But Susan C. Elgin, Mrs. Goldberger's attorney, said it was Mr. Goldberger's filing of an emergency motion for unsupervised visitation rights of his children in circuit court in early 1991 that brought the case to the secular world. And while noting that the case is now a State matter that cannot be dropped by the family, she said it has been Mr. Goldberger's refusal to pay any child support that has led to his recent problems with the law.

"Mr. Goldberger, by his own psychiatric report, has a personality disorder," Ms. Elgin said. "The people supporting him are doing him no favor. He needs help."

Mr. Goldberger alleges that his wife suffers from mental illness and sever depression.

Some observers suggest that this case, however unique, is indicative of potential problems that can result from arranged marriages where the husband and wife do not know each other well, compounded by the longstanding tradition of having the wife's family agree to support the husband's scholarship. Large families and little income can lead to conflict, experts note.

But for now, the focus is on bringing this particular case to resolution.

Rabbi Yaakov Weinberg, Rosh Yeshiva (dean) of the local Ner Israel Rabbinical College, blames the case's entrance into secular courts to "partisanship" between factions in the Orthodox world.

"It's a disgrace to the community and people involved in the case that it's anywhere but in the rabbinical courts," he said. "Obviously both sides are wrong. But the whole thing should have been settled justly in the Beit Din. What we have to do now is try to find some peace for these people."

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Last Updated:  03/27/2005


"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."

--Margaret Mead

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