The Shmooze

Court Rules Catholic Woman Has To Raise Stepson as Orthodox Jew

By Elissa Strauss

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Divorce is never easy, and mixing in the rules of Orthodox Judaism certainly doesn’t make it easier. But that’s precisely what happened when Laura Derbigney became entangled in a custody battle between her Catholic husband and his Jewish ex-wife over the ex-couple’s 7-year-old son.

Derbigney, a Chicago resident, is being forced by a court to raise her stepson as an Orthodox Jew, the religion of his mother, the state’s local NBC affiliate is reporting. But Derbigney, a Hispanic Catholic, says that not being allowed to drive on Saturdays and being forced to avoid pork just doesn’t feel kosher.

Watch a video with Derbigney after the jump

“I have to purchase certain products. I prefer minority-owned stores. I’m Hispanic and Catholic. I make enchiladas. Flautas. Now I’m being ridiculed for making food I grew up with,” she told NBC. “I thought there was a difference between church and state. Because [the boy’s birth mother is] a Hasidic Jew, I have to live live as Hasidic Jew, too?”

Derbigney is currently fighting the ruling, saying it goes against the First Amendment. “The next step is going to be a Muslim father with custody. During the next visitation, is the mother going to have to wear a burka? That’s where we’re heading. Divorce courts have to stop getting in the way of religion,” said Derbigney’s lawyer, Joel Brodsky.

The boy’s biological mother is prevented from commenting on the case due to a gag order.


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