A mother who pushed her two children out the window of their fourth-floor
apartment in Tel Aviv on Tuesday morning and then jumped out after them in an
apparent suicide attempt was told by social workers earlier this month to “come
back after the haggim [holidays],” The Jerusalem Post has learned.
mother, a 38-year-old immigrant from Tajikistan who was hospitalized in serious
condition, had turned to the social welfare services in Tel Aviv asking for help
in taking care of the two children, a boy aged four and a girl, five.
would like to highlight that on September 5, the mother met with a
and asked if a student could be provided to help her children with their
studies,” a spokeswoman for the Tel Aviv- Jaffa Municipality told the Post
was agreed that she would come back after the haggim.”
national supervisor for child affairs at the Welfare and Social Services
Ministry, confirmed that “the social services do not operate during [the
Holy Days period].”
She added, “Most likely because the holidays took
place so early this year, right after the school vacation, no new
families were admitted to community programs [for at risk
Slutzky said there was awareness in the ministry that the
lengthy school vacation, from July 1 through September 1, followed
immediately by a slew of religious holidays, was a time when troubled
experienced the most strain.
According to police reports, the children’s
father left the family nearly three years ago, and the mother had been
social services for more than a year since being arrested for being
disorderly in a public park in Tel Aviv.
“Before the summer vacation, I
sent a letter to welfare workers in my department saying that if there
children at risk who might not be able to return home during the
we must find them alternative arrangements,” said Slutzky, referring to
removed from the family home and living in special care.
She added that
when school was out, there was no formal framework that could keep
these children and, after two months of summer vacation and one month of
religious festivals, the risks for a child from a family with economic
or a history of violence were increased.
“I think it’s important to
emphasize that in cases such as this one, there are simply not enough
workers to reach all the families that need help, and neighbors or close
members need to be more alert to any possible problems,” continued
highlighting the ministry’s recently inaugurated emergency helpline,
“If a neighbor sees children wandering around the streets late at
night alone, then I really believe it is their duty to alert the
However, Hanita Zimrin, president of Eli-Israel, the
association for child protection, said that the core of the problem lay
overloaded social welfare system.
“The services for protecting children
are very busy, and although there has been a big improvement recently,
welfare workers have a caseload of some 400 families, so even if the
worker is an angel, there is no way he can help everyone,” she
Zimrin said that at Eli, social workers were assigned no more than
20 case files per person so they had time to reach all those in need.
other problem, according to Zimrin, was the concept of “after the
applied by many government services.
“With social work, there is no
‘after the haggim,’” she pointed out. “In fact, it is well known by
during the haggim, when there is a lack of frameworks for children and
higher expectations that everything will be great and nice, it is
Zimrin said that calls to Eli’s helpline (1-800-22-39-66)
almost always increased during the holiday season.
“For those who are
already struggling, the holiday period is almost always worse, and
those who were not previously in trouble find themselves struggling,”
While neither woman would comment further on this specific case,
Slutzky told the Post that Welfare and Social Services Minister Isaac
the ministry’s directorgeneral, Nahum Itzkovitz, would likely establish
investigative committee to look into what had happened with this
She also said that in December, a training day would be held for
social workers to look into the growing phenomenon of parents harming or
murdering their children and what could be done to prevent it.