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One Ugly Divorce

Couple feuding over daughter’s religion

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The Reyes couple, during happier days.(ABC News)

This story has it all. Joseph and Rebecca Reyes were married in a traditional Jewish ceremony, and Joseph, who was born Catholic, converted to Rebecca’s Judaism. They had a daughter, Ela, now 3. And then, one day, the bottom fell out: financial troubles, suspicions of infidelity, etc. They divorced. Rebecca got Ela (and the house).

It was at this point that Joseph found God and Jesus besides, and had Ela baptized, telling Rebecca about it only after the fact. Rebecca went to court and got a judge to bar Joseph from taking Ela to church. Joseph proceeded to, well, take Ela to church, with a camera crew in tow—you just get closer to God when strangers are taping you, you know? Next week, Joseph faces up to six months in prison for being criminally in contempt of the court order.

The video’s below. Two thoughts:

• I don’t think this is about religion—particularly for Joseph, who lost basically all credibility when he notified that camera crew. It’s even less about the First Amendment, a banner Joseph has been plenty happy to wave. This is about two people going through a nasty break-up and wanting to get back at each other, and using their kid as a pawn in that game. Joseph clearly started it, and based on the limited information in the report, he seems more culpable; but it takes two to tango (Joseph alleges Rebecca went straight to court, for example, without first trying to reason with him).

• Yes, we have a comments section, and yes, if you feel like it, you can go there now and tell the world that this never would have happened if Rebecca had married a Jewish man (although it’s worth pointing out that Joseph converted). Just please try to be civil. Thanks!

Exclusive: Mother Talks About Whether Estranged Dad Should Go to Jail For Taking Daughter to Church [ABC News]

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Nadine R. says:

1) wow, how self-hating can you get? isn’t Joseph Jewish now that he converted???
2) when we are young we make a lot of mistakes– at least Rebecca had a ketubah and got married before starting a family.
3) a lot Jewish men run the opposite direction from dating a Yiddele, so it leaves a lot of maidels, or we start dating shaygetzes to fill the void. What’s a girl to do? marry her 70 year old Uncle? (today is Purim)
4) lawyer/newsman CHRIS Cuomo???? His wife’s name is Cristina. Were does he come off getting to say, “they should raise the child in both religions”, when his first statement was “Clearly, this is not about religion.” ???? !!!!! Ay yay yay.

Jeremiah says:

Joseph is indeed Jewish. You cannot un-convert, no matter what else you observe or do or practice. Once a Jew, always a Jew.

Whether Jewish law has anything to do with what is a marital and civil dispute is another matter. Depending upon their divorce agreement, if she does indeed have full custody, then my guess is she gets to decide the child’s religious upbringing.

I feel for the kid. Divorce is hard enough on the kids without the parents getting them caught up in stuff like this.

I wrote about this case in JWA’s blog, Jewesses with Attitude. It brings up a lot of interesting questions about who truly has (or should have) the authority over a child’s religious upbringing – even when both parents are Jewish and want to raise the children Jewish, there is still room for disagreement!

Check it out:

rivka says:

The article did not specify whether he converted Orthodox. It sure doesn’t seem that way. Rebecca, take heart. Your daughter is 100% Jewish and no measure of goyish antics can take that away.

Rivkah says:

The child is Jewish & should be raised with Jewish values…Rebecca, take the high road, set an example of our faith, don’t fight w/ the father, but stand your gtound in the name of Jewish continuity!

Bryna Weiss says:

I’d be willing to bet he’s the one who was unfaithful. He sounds like an a–hole!

David Bar-Dov says:

I heard the guy on chanel 9 news. He claimed he didn’t really convert to be Jewish; he only did it for his wife and so was taking it back. What does he think? He can stop being Jewish like turning in his library card? Thousands of years of Jewish tradition from Moses to Sandy Koufax…I’m getting carried away again.
The thing is, the Catholic church takes baptism seriously – don’t forget the pope that stole the Jewish boy 140 years ago and wouldn’t return him to his parents. Which all just goes to prove that (my love for the White Sox notwithstanding), all those Jews still stuck in Chi should make aliya already.

Yes, this story is rather appalling. I think you hit the nail on the head: It isn’t about freedom of religion or any other freedom….Instead it seems to be about two people who are taking their anger and hatred and hurt and going to war….In my practice, I see this play out repeatedly. Usually the people who suffer most are the children who become weapons of war.
As a divorce coach, I help people to focus on what is really important, on what it is okay to let go of, and on the pain their children — and themselves — will feel if they continue on a nasty and destructive path. Unfortunately, in many instances the family court system perpetuates these practices.
Thankfully it is becoming more common for people to seek out divorce professionals — divorce coaches, therapists, mediators, etc. — who can help the warring factions sort things out more peacefully.
One of my mottoes, as a divorce coach, is to help people go more gently through the process of divorce….Let’s hope Joseph and Rebecca seek the help they need….

anti-intermarriage says:

Joseph Reyes was never a Jew. Just like Ivanka Trump who had a quickie phony conversion to get married to her Jewish lover these frauds are NOT JEWS!

Rivka Yehudit says:

I have to disagree with you, anti-marriage. Ivanka Trump, sad to say, IS a Jew. Not a tznuis one that covers her hair, NO, but she is a Jew. She had an Orthodox conversion oversaw by the Rabbinical Counsel of America (RCA). I may not like it, being a frum Jew myself and knowing lots of converts that feel they are held to a higher standard than she is, but she IS a Jew nonetheless.

The father may not like it, but the daughter is Jewish. The father can baptize her a million times. It won’t make her any less Jewish.

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One Ugly Divorce

Couple feuding over daughter’s religion

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