A nine-year-old girl faces being ostracised by an ultra-orthodox Jewish community after her mother allowed her to eat McDonald’s fast food and go to a mixed-sex gymnastics class, a court has heard.
The father of the girl, neither of whom can be named, said that he feared his daughter would be shunned by relatives and friends.
Litigation had started after the girl’s mother left her husband and moved away from the ultra-orthodox sect in London, after she became disillusioned and frustrated by the restrictions placed on her.
Sitting in the Family Court, Judge Laura Harris ruled that the girl should stay with her father but spend time with her mother.
He however he then complained about the lifestyle the girl led when with her mother, and objected to her being allowed to eat McDonald’s food and attend a mixed-sex gymnastics class.
The man also complained that his estranged wife had driven with the girl on the Sabbath, and had “dressed inappropriately” when picking the youngster up from her ultra-orthodox Jewish school.
Detail of the case has emerged in a ruling by Judge Harris, who did not identify the family involved, following the latest round of litigation at a family court hearing in London.
She said the woman had promised not to allow her daughter to eat meat in future, but objected to her daughter being made to leave a mixed-sex gymnastics class.
Judge Harris said the woman should not be forced to remove the girl from the class, in legal action brought after the man had hired a private investigator to follow his estranged wife.
The judge noted that the man had “repeatedly emphasised” his fear that the girl would be ostracised from her community, and said she was “very mindful” of that risk.
In November a ruling by another family court judge revealed that a Jewish man who left an ultra-orthodox community after splitting from his wife was accused of letting their two young children ride their bikes on the Sabbath and watch television.
The man’s estranged wife told Judge Judith Rowe of her concerns about what the children were allowed to do when they visited their father.
She said she was afraid of them being “exposed to an alien way of life” and of religious rules being broken.
Judge Rowe had made decisions relating to when the children, who lived with their mother, should spend time with their father.