The rescue of Isaac Hersh turns out to be far less complete that its backers maintained. First of all,…
…Isaac is in the custody of Steve (Shlomo) Zackheim, a man with a criminal background who a friend of Michael's father. Apparently, Rabbi Ahron Schechter agreed to this arrangement.
The courts ratified it while pushing off a custody appeal made by Isaac's aunt and uncle until May.
The rescuers apparently had no real plan for how to deal with custody issues after the rescue and did not do the legal groundwork necessary to assure custody in the weeks leading up to the rescue.
There are cases of other children sent to Tranquility Bay whose relatives – an aunt, for example – were awarded custody even before the child was removed from TB. It appears the legal groundwork necessary to make this happen was not done.
Further, Isaac's 'rescuers' continue to claim that Isaac was and is religious – something that friends and family say is absolutely false.
So what's happening here?
I think this:
1. Tzvi Gluck, MR and the other rescuers had no real viable plan.I believe Isaac was sent to TB as a punishment for not being religious. He is now being presented as a Orthodox" boy, a "religious" boy – even though this is false (Tzvi Gluck admitted as much on Zev Brenner's radio show when challenged) and is now subjected to more religious coercion arranged by his 'rescuers.'
2. They did not do the proper preparatory work to ensure the safety of Isaac.
3. At the same time, concern for shaming the community limited what could – and should – have been done to protect Isaac.
4. Isaac is now in the custody of someone with close ties to both Michael Hersh and other who supported him in his decision to send Isaac to TB.
5. A normal family court would have awarded temporary custody either to Isaac's aunt and uncle or to a court appointed foster home. Instead, it accepted a deal brokered with Michael Hersh, Rabbi Schechter and the rescuers to put Isaac within his father's easy reach. This only makes sense if the rescuers did not object or if the deal was brokered by them in the first place – and I'm told it was.
Twice now I got information on this case and was asked not to publish it by rescuers and their close supporters. Each time I was told publication "endangers" Isaac and Sol. And each time much of the information was made public a day or so later by these rescuers but through other outlets, like the Daily News.
Last night I spoke with a victim in all this and asked him about custody and related issues. I already had heard the rumors and had some confirmation. He knew something would be made public but he did not know exactly what.
What that turned out to be is a misleading piece in today's Jewish Star. It calls Isaac a "yeshiva boy" when he was, in fact, not Orthodox at the time of the kidnapping, and repeats other inaccuracies – all fed, it seems, to the Star's editor by Tzvi Gluck's team. At the same time, the Star does show clearly that Isaac was not in any way "troubled" in the classic sense of the word and that he was not on drugs, suicidal, or violent.
If the Star knew that Isaac was not Orthodox and had not been Orthodox for several years, perhaps it would have noted the real reason for his stay in TB – punishment for religious disobedience. The boy was sent to a prison and tortured because he refused to be Orthodox. It was that refusal that infuriated his father, and that refusal that sparked much of his father's alleged abuse.
Isaac should be returned to his foster family in Texas and allowed to live his life as he sees fit, within the law of the United States.
Tzvi Gluck, MR and these other rescuers have the responsibility to do their utmost to make this happen.
At the same time, police need to view this case as it really is, and investigate and charge the people – Michael Hersh, Rabbi Ahron Schechter and, perhaps, others, who horrifically abused a teenage boy because he refused to follow their religious dictates.