Judge in court (illustrative)
Judge in court (illustrative) iStock

A court hearing on where two teen girls from the Gerrer hasidic sect should live ended Wednesday evening with a temporary placement for them.

The girls, Riki and Esti Sandik, disappeared from their parents' home and were initially reported as kidnapped. However, it later became clear that they had left home of their own initiative, and asked to live with their married sister.

During the hearing, representatives for the welfare authorities said that from their investigation, the girls cannot return to their parents' home, and their wishes should be honored.

The younger daughter, aged 14, was asked during the hearing what conditions were important to her if she were to be transferred to another family. She responded that the family should not have any phones which are not "kosher" phones, and that her older sister should remain together with her.

Following the hearing and after speaking to the parents, the sides agreed that the girls will live during the coming week at the home of an adoptive family in Bnei Brak.

Sources in the Gerrer hasidic sect said Wednesday evening, "This is an interesting ruling which shows that the recent claims against the Gerrer hasidic sect regarding kidnapping were not true, and the [girls] left their home not due to pressure from the hasidic sect but due to objective reasons which are relevant to the relationships within the family, and which were not supposed to be public knowledge."

Sources in the community of Rabbi Shaul Alter, one of the sect's leaders, said, "The claims of violence by the parents did not come up in the hearing, not even from the girls, and in principle the judge said his opinion was that the 14-year-old girl should be under her parents' authority only."

"During the hearing, the parents expressed their love for the two girls and said their home is always open to them, and they can return home at any time."