Shalom Life | July 14, 2015

Three Israeli Kids in Detroit Sent to Juvie for Refusing Lunch with Father

“I cannot understand something like that can even happen in this country”

By: B. Shane Morganstein

Published: July 11th, 2015 in News » World

Three Israeli Kids in Detroit Sent to Juvie for Refusing Lunch with Father

The three children of Israeli parents living in Michigan have been sent to live in a juvenile detention center after refusing to have lunch with their father.

Yes, you read that correctly: the children are in juvie because they didn’t want to grab some food with their dad.

The situation reportedly began at a routine court hearing, where Maya and Omer Tsimhoni were discussing supervised parenting time in front of a judge.

The judge, Lisa Gorcyca of the Oakland County family court, then became upset with the children, who had disrespected their father. Judge Gorcyca explained to the children, aged 9, 10, and 14, the importance of maintaining a “healthy relationship” with their father, and proceeded to order the children to go “have some lunch” with him.

The children refused the judge’s order. Gorcyca then held the children in contempt of court, and ordered them to live at Children’s Village, a county juvenile detention centre for troubled children, until they are 18. For the 9 and 10-year-olds, this would mean they would live in the juvenile facility for almost a decade.

Even after explaining to the judge that their father is “violent” and that they had witnessed “him [their father] hit my mom,” Judge Gorcyca maintained his sentence, comparing the family to the Charles Manson cult and claiming that the children were brainwashed by their mother.

“I felt like I was watching them be executed,” explained Maya Tsimhouni of her children, making special note of the fact she is prohibited from visiting her children in the juvenile center. “I cannot understand something like that can even happen in this country.”

Admitting that the divorce was hard on both her and the children (even at times involving kidnapping allegations), Maya maintains that the judge’s reaction to the children refusing to have lunch with their father is extreme. “No matter how bad the divorce gets, I think the court should not punish the kids for that.”

Although the children could be released whenever their father admits they learned a lesson, Mr. Tsimhouni left for a two-week business trip to Israel the day after the court hearing.

Maya’s representative, Lisa Stern, is still shocked by the case, even after 20 years of practicing family law. Stern believes that there were many other, less extreme options available to the judge, and maintains that the judge’s ruling is unnecessarily cruel. “I know laws were violated and I know that the children were punished for crimes they did not commit.”

Judge Gorcyca has denied requests for an emergency hearing, meaning that the case will be up for review in September, unless action is taken before then.

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