Israeli ministry falsely declares baby dead and sells him for adoption
Marianne Azizi writes:
Adi Levy (pictures above) might be someone you wouldn’t really notice. He collects metal and scraps and travels around on his bicycle.
I met him in Or Aqiva in Israel on one of the hottest days of the year – in the sun it was well over 40 degrees Celsius. Everyone was dripping in sweat and he was no exception.
Never judge a book by its cover. As I was sitting outside the Welfare office and child contact centre, he stopped and noticed the flags and banners for Walk4kids September 2015 and asked if he could talk.
In 1977, he became the father of a baby boy. A joyous occasion for him and his wife. Then he received a phone call to say his baby son had died. He was only 2 kilograms at birth, and he was informed the baby had been too small to survive. He was instructed to go to the town of Afula and identify the body.
Filled with grief, he arrived at the morgue and was shown four bodies of babies. He relates how he was told to choose one and that it didn’t matter which. Every instinct in him screamed that none of these babies was his.
Levy’s story seemed impossible to believe initially, so he said he would go to get supporting documents and return. It took some time, and I’d almost forgotten him in the sweltering heat. He carried an old briefcase with all the documentation. His whole life in ragged and tattered pages – a magazine article and a collection of papers (see below).
Levy had always doubted the truth of his son’s death. Three months after the event, he was called into the Betuach Leumi – the social security service – and told his payments had stopped. He had barely noticed his mail, and asked what it was all about. He was informed that as the baby had been adopted, he was no longer to receive any benefits for the child. He decided there and then that he would find his son and searched for over 12 years.
Levy proceeded to write many letters – to the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Interior, among others. Endless enquiries. The answers were varied. One letter informed him that the baby had been born on 2 December, died on 3 December and buried in June the following year. This is highly unlikely under Jewish law, which required burial on the same day as death. Another letter informed him that checks had been made for a two-year period and showed no infant deaths during that time. Another document even mentioned he had a girl, not a boy.
Searching for his son became Levy’s life. A death certificate was finally produced in 1991 – 14 years after the birth of his boy. He finally found his son.
Levy says he is an Iraqi Jew, and perhaps they mistook him for a Yemeni Jew, given the scandal of the stolen babies.
He used to be a singer. He was a man full of joy, he said. He went on to have further children, but as he carries around all the documents in a worn briefcase, it is clear that his child never did die.
He is at peace now, knowing that he has found his son and talked to him, but his life was changed from the moment he was told his child was dead.
The practice of taking children in Israel is still happening to this day – over 300,000 children are at risk, and evidence of children being taken from fit parents is mounting.
Levy is grateful for the time and respect he has been given, and gets on his bicycle but the heartbreak of a stolen life will stay with him until his own death.