Support from all over the Jewish world has been pouring in to the Woodcox
household in Ashkelon, following the attack that the family allegedly suffered
at the hands of Oz immigration inspectors last week.
RELATED:Probe into Ashkelon brutality case opened US converts accuse immigration inspectors of assault
Oz officials, on the
other hand, insist that their inspectors were the ones who were
The family’s former congregation, B’nai Jehudah in Overland
Park, Kansas, a Reform synagogue, has raised upwards of $3,600 in three days to
help the Woodcoxes. The family is living in poverty, and Jews from across
the globe have called and written to express solidarity with it and voice their
outrage at the alleged actions of the immigration unit’s inspectors.
Kansas congregation’s spiritual leader, Rabbi Arthur Nemitoff, sent an urgent
letter to all his congregants on Sunday in which he briefly outlined the details
of the case and urged them to show support.
“Many of you know Michael and
Trina Woodcox, and their children. For those of you who don’t, the Woodcox
family is African-American, came to us a few years ago seeking to learn more
about Judaism. Despite living far from our building and despite the ridicule and
confusion others in the black community expressed over their embracing of
Judaism, they formally chose to become Jewish,” the letter read.
went on to describe last Tuesday’s incident, in which violence broke out between the family
and the inspectors, resulting in bruises to nearly all the family members,
including a woman seven month’s pregnant and a one-year-old child, and to two
“Suffice it to say that the family is physically and
emotionally bruised and battered. And it seems as though this all occurred
because this wonderful Jewish family – who only wants to live in Israel in peace
– was of a skin color that some found offensive,” continued the
The Woodcox family, comprising seven people, is waiting for their
petition for citizenship under the Law of Return to be authorized by the
Interior Ministry. A ministry spokeswoman said the family’s legal status is
being investigated by to see if their conversion is valid.
interview with The Jerusalem Post
, Trina Woodcox said she had received the money
sent to the family from the congregation in Kansas and was continually receiving
letters and phone calls from supporters.
The conservative congregation in
Ashkelon, Kehillat Netzach Israel, has provided the family with warm meals and
“We attended Shabbat services at the synagogue and were
overwhelmed by the expressions of love and support we received,” Woodcox said.
“It is important to me to say to all the well-wishers that this experience has
not shaken our faith in Judaism. The outpouring of love has only increased our
What the family has yet to receive is any formal response from
the state regarding their complaint about the confrontation.
heard anything from the police or the Ministry of Interior since the incident
took place. The only ones we’ve heard from is the United States Embassy, who
wrote to me asking if we wanted their assistance,” Woodcox said.
sure what the embassy can do, but if they can help make sure that the offending
officers are brought to justice, that is all we can hope for.”
family’s lawyer, Nicole Maor of the Israel Religious Action Center, said she
sent out a formal letter, including hospital reports and witness testimonies, to
all of the relevant authorities, but had yet to hear back from them.
her letter to the Interior Ministry, Maor asked that the family’s immigration
process be expedited in light of the incident and given the family’s difficult
financial state, but had received no response to that request, either.
Ashkelon police spokeswoman told the Post
that the case was under
In light of the alleged attack on the Woodcox family, a
foreign workers advocacy group, the Migrant Workers Hotline, has called on
government agencies, including the civil service commissioner, the interior
minister and the head of the Oz unit, to look into excessive use of force by Oz
“The Migrant Workers Hotline has fielded four complaints of
unreasonable use of force by Oz inspectors against foreign workers and
asylumseekers over the last three months,” the group’s spokeswoman said. “All
the attacks took place during routine document inspections and in at least two
of the cases, the violence continued even after the people had been
The NGO also raised concerns that there is no body in Israel
authorized to oversee the activities of Oz inspectors.
functions without the oversight of any body that can inspect their behavior,
criticize their actions or, if need be, take disciplinary action against them,”
the spokeswoman said. “While in cases of police violence there is the Police
Investigations Department, an external body that has the authority to
investigate excessive use of force by police officers, it’s as if Oz inspectors,
who belong to the Interior Ministry, are above the law.
“There is no
point person at the Civil Service Commission, the body that formally oversees
all government agencies, who is assigned the role and has the authority to
investigate Oz inspectors and to whom plaintiffs can be referred,” she
“It is an unacceptable state of affairs when foreigners, migrant
workers and asylum-seekers find themselves being bounced around from one place
to another without having the ability to complain.”