Haredi mother meets district shrink

Woman suspected of starving son meets psychiatrist late Monday; will undergo second evaluation.

Jerusalem child starver 248.88 (photo credit: Channel 2)
Jerusalem child starver 248.88
(photo credit: Channel 2)
Following the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court re-order on Monday that the mother suspected of starving her three-year-old child undergo a psychiatric evaluation within 24 hours, the woman met with District Psychiatrist Dr. Yaakov Weill late Monday night. News of the meeting was announced in a statement by the family's media adviser. The court order came a day after the woman, who is believed to suffer from a mental disorder, skipped a previously scheduled evaluation. Dr. Weill reportedly asked to meet the woman a second time. She met with him in his clinic and not in the house of the rabbi she had been staying at since being released to house arrest. Haredi websites claimed the woman opted to meet Weill in his clinic to avoid pressure from members of her ultra-Orthodox sect, Toldot Aharon, not to meet with him. According to Army Radio, the woman did not demand to transfer her son from Hadassah Ein Kerem to a different hospital as a precondition to her meeting with Weill, as was previously reported. The latest court order came during an emergency closed-door meeting between the woman's attorneys and police representatives, in the offices of court president Judge Shlomit Dotan. During the closed-door hearing, police also complained to the judge that authorities have not been able to question the woman's four other children, in violation of past agreements. The court had released the woman from detention to house arrest on Friday, on condition that she undergo the psychiatric evaluation, and her initial refusal to do so raised the possibility of her being detained again. The evaluation by Weill will help determine whether the woman is fit to stand trial. Meanwhile, senior officials from Hadassah University Hospital met overnight with a top rabbinical leader of the Eda Haredit, which has organized the violent protests against the woman's arrest, in an effort to ease tensions. The meeting came after Hadassah's deputy director-general Dr. Yair Birnbaum received death threats earlier this week. Posters in Jerusalem's Mea She'arim neighborhood compared the hospital official to Dr. Josef Mengele, the notorious Nazi who performed medical experiments on inmates. The child remains hospitalized at Hadassah whose doctors were the first to suspect that he was being abused, drawing the wrath of the Eda Haredit leaders. Some 20 haredim held a prayer vigil outside Birnbaum's Jerusalem home on Monday night. Also Monday, a police car that was parked in Mea She'arim was set on fire and its tires were punctured, allegedly by haredim, Jerusalem Police spokesman Shmuel Ben-Ruby said. A pedestrian at the scene extinguished the fire, but the vehicle was damaged. Earlier Monday, the Knesset held a special debate on the protests in Jerusalem and other cities with large haredi populations. The debate, initiated by Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin, was marked by arguments between coalition parties Israel Beiteinu and Shas. MK David Azoulai (Shas) claimed that he had heard a rumor that the allegedly abusive mother had been held in a detention cell together with male terror suspects. Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovich dismissed the claims, arguing that it was not possible that a woman was placed in a detention cell together with male prisoners. "How far are you taking this?" he asked Azoulai. Etgar Lefkovits and Rebecca Anna Stoil contributed to this report