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3 siblings remain the center of attention

Mike Martindale
The Detroit News

Pontiac — When three West Bloomfield Township children are asked to recall how they spent their summer vacation in 2015, it will be quite a sad tale.

And it’s still being written.

The three — two brothers, ages 14 and 10, and their 9-year-old sister — remain in the center of a contentious legal custody battle that has attracted international media attention. Two hearings have been scheduled this week in the case.

Omer Tsimhoni and Maya Eibschitz-Tsimhoni were divorced in 2011, but arguments over visitation and parenting time have become serious issues. In recent weeks, the three have bounced from court hearings to a juvenile detention facility to the more comfortable arrangement of a summer camp.

On Monday, the adults are to meet again before Oakland Circuit Judge Lisa Gorcyca, in a hearing that could ultimately decide where the children will call home. Gorcyca, still stinging from criticism and second-guessing over having placed the three in a section of Children’s Village, normally reserved for neglected youth, will review their status and how they are faring at camp and away from their mother.

On Wednesday, Gorcyca is expected to take up a request from Tsimhoni, who seeks to be granted sole custody because he says his ex-wife has “trampled” on the childrens’ rights and undermined every effort he has made to try and visit them. Tsimhoni cites how his ex-wife released the names and photos of his children to the media.

Tsimhoni also seeks to have his ex-wife undergo a psychological examination for what he describes as bizarre behavior and believes she is unfit to have custody.

On June 24, the children were found in contempt of court for refusing to obey an order from Gorcyca to have a healthy relationship with their father. The three refused to look or talk with their father, or even share lunch with him.

They have also been uncooperative with court-appointed attorneys and health professionals trying to evaluate their behavior which one lawyer described as “cult-ish” and likely a case of parental alienation coached or at least condoned by their mother.

Eibschitz-Tsimhoni, a well-known pediatric ophthalmologist, has maintained there is nothing wrong with the children but insists plenty is amiss with her ex-husband. She has described him as violent and fears he may try to kidnap the children and take them to Israel, where he spends most of his time working as a General Motors engineer.

Court records indicate that in the past two years Eibschitz-Tsimhoni has had at least four lawyers withdraw from her case and at least eight lawyers in the past six years withdrew from representing her. Her two current attorneys — family custody expert, Lisa Stern, and New York city attorney, Jennifer Hoult — are both expected to announce next week they are no longer her legal counsel and that she had hired a new attorney, Jeffrey Abood, to handle the custody battle.

Stern has not returned telephone calls to The Detroit News this week and neither Hoult nor Abood could be reached for comment Friday.

Hoult’s involvement has been questioned in court after she allegedly tried to contact the children by sending sealed envelopes to them at Children’s Village and later at camp. Gorcyca has ordered that neither of the children’s parents are to phone or send mail to the children and William Lansat, an attorney appointed by Gorcyca to supervise their legal rights, wants Gorcyca to decide whether these envelopes — all of which have gone undelivered — are not in violation of her order.

The children, even after being removed from the mother’s custody, continue to indicate they don’t trust their father and want to move home with their mother.