The Shumacher Affair

By Eran Riklis

8 X one hour

Producers Michael Sharfshtein  Moshe Edery  Leon Edery  Eran Riklis

In Israel, 1960, a gang of Ultra-Orthodox fanatics led by a female ex-Catholic French resistance fighter kidnapped an eight years old boy and evaded the Mossad world wide for over two years. 


Yossele Schumacher (born 1952) is a Soviet-born Israeli whose abduction as a child in 1960 became a cause célèbre in the young State of Israel. Schumacher was abducted by his Haredi Orthodox Jewish grandparents - and others in the community -  to prevent him from being raised as a Secular Jew by his parents. Ruth Blau, originally Madeleine Feraille, was a French convert to Judaism who had served in the French Resistance during World War II, was drafted to help. On June 21, 1960, Schumacher was taken out of Israel by Blau, who had disguised him as a girl, and forged a passport for him. Schumacher would spend close to two years in Europe under her care, living in Switzerland, France, England and Belgium. Meanwhile, authorities in Israel increased their search efforts with no results and Prime Minister David Ben Gurion ordered the Mossad to move into action. The search was an object of controversy, as Mossad chief Issar Harel was criticized for his focus on this case at the expense of manhunts for Nazi officials. After months of secret, mostly futile investigations, Yossele Schumacher was finally found in the Brooklyn, New York. Schumacher's abduction led to an early major polarization among Israeli Jews due to disagreements between Orthodox Jews, who largely supported the abduction, and Secular Jews, who largely opposed it. 

It was to mirror the ever growing friction between Secular and Orthodox Jews, the rule of the State versus the rule of God.