Bruria Keren in the news again

The veiled mother of 12 from Beit Shemesh, accused of abusing six of her twelve children, is in the headlines after after agreeing to interviews with reporters. Below is the text of the Ynet (Yediot) account in English There is also an extensive Maariv interview in Hebrew; I translated the first part here.

Abuse scandal: Accused mother says allegation a vicious lie

Mother-of-12 accused of severe child abuse goes on record for first time since her arrest, categorically denies all accusations against her

Neta Sela

Published: 05.04.08, 11:55 / Israel News

Ynet exclusive: Beit Shemesh mother-of-12 accused of severe child abuse speaks out for the first time since the horrendous affair was revealed.

K. has been under house arrest in Jerusalem for two weeks. She is awaiting trial for abusing her children and for failing to report incest among the children.

In her first interview to the media, she insists all the accusations against her are a vicious lie: “Nothing of the kind ever happened. I never abused my children. If I hit them, it was nothing more than spanking, and even that didn’t happened more than once every couple of months, educational spankings.”

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Just over a month ago, the state filed a severe indictment against her, for aggravated assault and abusing a minor. The indictment included multiple counts detailing years of abuse and neglect, as well as graphic details of the ways she used to beat her children using belts, sticks and a rolling pin; smash their faces into her kitchen countertop, wake them up by pouring cold water on them, throw bleach at them, put out matches on her son’s chest and cut her daughter’s hair as means of punishment.

But K. is sure she will be vindicated, even from the allegations that she knew of incestuous relations among the children and said nothing: “I don’t believe any of these lies. I’m well aware of the lies being told about me and this too is a lie,” she said.

Nothing more than a game

“There’s a proverb – ‘He who spares the rod hates his son’,” she said when confronted with the allegations she used to chain her children to a chair and hit them. “It tells of how Solomon’s mother tied him up and bit him until the Messiah emerged. The kids read it and decided to act is out. It was a game.”

While in prison, those around her began fearing for her life. Being a vegan, she stopped eating almost completely. She spends her days praying, reading the Book of Psalms and saying very little. According to reports, she used to communicate with her children by passing them notes.

“After I realized I was wasting my time with them, that they just won’t listen to me I decided it was better to spend my time praying,” she explains – on paper.

Faced with her radical chastity, we asked how could it be, that she of all people is suspected of committing such unchaste acts. She believes God is testing her, saying the experience has made her faith even stronger: “I know the heavens are testing me, to see if I’ll break and give up my chastity.

“Every day I tell the lord how much I love him and when they respected my chastity in prison I saw the good lord hasn’t abandoned me… on the contrary, my faith is stronger. I realize the heavens have sent me to see how miserable the people of Israel are. It’s like they told me – ‘You have to see what’s really going on and who needs you to pray form them.

“The women here began reading Psalms and even the wardens are dressing more modestly… I have seen that Israel is holy and now I pray every day, as hard as I can, for God to have mercy on all of Israel, to help them find their faith, so that everyone can see the coming of the Messiah and be redeemed.”

‘Mother Taliban’

Supported by the mass wave of modesty sweeping over ultra-Orthodox Jerusalem, K. has found support in many women who have began attending her lessons and following her lead – wearing layers upon layers of clothes. Those layers have dubbed her “Mother Taliban”. Her piety seems endless and the women surrounding her tell of devotion to the mitzvas of faith.

The last few years have seen many women begin radically covering themselves up, so much so that the ultra-Orthodox community has expressed some real concern about this eccentric behavior.

K. on her part, insists the dress was acceptable among Jewish women throughout history, and that it is secularism and education that have led to the change: “There is a prophecy saying that before the coming of the Messiah you will see women covering themselves completely and that will be the sign that the Messiah in on his way… there’s nothing anyone can do. It is written in the heavens and no one can fight their will.”

Supreme Court judge Hanan Melzer, who allowed K. to be released to house arrest, forbade her from having any contact with her children. She still cannot understand where the allegations against her came from.

“If I could talk to men I’d ask the judge where’s his self respect, how can he even bring himself to ask me such things,” she said.

Is there anything she would like to tell her children? “My sweet children, I love you very much,” she wrote on a piece of paper, “and I’m not angry at any of you. I love God more than anyone.”

Thanks to Rafi and Tamiri for sending me links.