US Court: Catholic Woman Must Live as Orthodox Jew

Published: May 20th 2010
in News » World

Laura Derbigney, a Hispanic Catholic
Pic: NBC News

It has been centuries since the divide between church and state has been in place but recently it seems that religion has been taking center stage in divorce courts across the United States. This time, the state has ruled that ultra-Orthodox Judaism must be followed by a pair of Catholics


Laura Derbigney, a Hispanic Catholic woman, has been placed under court order to keep the Sabbath, keep kosher and live as a Hasidic Jew. This court order was carried out in Chicago and the woman is now being told she must live an Orthodox Jewish lifestyle due to her new husband’s ex-wife who is a Hasidic Jew. Derbigney’s husband Nelson, also a Catholic, has a son by his first wife, a seven-year old who must carry out ultra-Orthodox restrictions with his Catholic father as he has with his biological mother, and this is the reasoning behind the court’s order to have the boy’s father and new step-mother live in the ways of a Hasidic Jew.


"I truly feel it's an intrusion on my home life," Derbigney said from her attorney's office Monday, according to NBC reports. "That I have to now obey certain aspects of being kosher and following Sabbath in order for my husband and I to see his son, is wrong."


These restrictions include dietary restrictions. Despite Derbigney reportedly liking to cook Hispanic foods from her childhood, she will not be able to feed the child pork. Furthermore, the court has ordered that she is not allowed to shop at her regular supermarket and must shop from a kosher supermarket, henceforth – a supermarket, according to her interview with NBC, that is located in a different neighbourhood far from her home. Along with this, she will definitely not be able to take the boy from her new husband’s first marriage in a car on Saturdays, and for the same reason no sports will be played, no electronics will be used, as she has to follow all the laws of Shabbat.


The court order was enacted under the demands of the Hasidic Jewish ex-wife who complained to court that the last time her son visited his father he was fed non-kosher hot dogs.


Attorney Joel Brodsky, who is defending the Derbigneys and has won a similar case where religion proved to be the main concern in a custody battle, told NBC that the court’s ruling ignores the First Amendment which describes a citizen’s right to live by their own religious beliefs. Brodsky said, “Just because you're divorced, the court can't say how to live your lives or what grocery store you can go to."


Related articles: (US Court, family court, Catholic, Hispanic, divorce, intermarriage)
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