Orthodox Jewish Mother of 6 Thrown In Jail by Ohio Judge

Peter Julie Goffstein with their 6 children. Credit: Sylvania Southview Reunion Page
An Orthodox Jewish mother of 6, who has been battling her ex-husband to allow her to raise her children in an Orthodox Jewish home, has been thrown in jail by an Ohio Judge.

An Orthodox Jewish mother of six who was barred from speaking with her own children because she insisted on raising them in a religious home has been thrown in jail because she lacked the financial means to reimburse her wealthy ex-husband $10,000 in court costs as order by an Ohio judge.

Julie Goffstein and her husband Peter Goffstein had been raising their boys as members of the Chabad community in Cincinnati when Peter Goffstein decided that he no longer wanted to live a religious lifestyle. Given an ultimatum of choosing between her religion and her marriage, Julie chose to continue living her life as a Jew and the Goffstein’s bitter divorce began to unfold in 2010. After hearing the testimony of 11 character witnesses and two court ordered evaluations, Judge Jon Sieve of the Hamilton County, Ohio Court of Common Pleas awarded full custody of all of the Goffstein children to their mother, specifically noting the importance of continuity for the boys who had been raised in an Orthodox home.

Julie Goffstein – FACEBOOK

Nine months later, Peter filed for a reallocation of custody and within weeks Judge Sieve had reversed his decision, awarding Peter full custody of the four younger children, observing that Julie’s insistence on sending the children to yeshiva was not in their best interest. While Judge Sieve’s ruling allowed the children to remain in yeshiva, Julie was held responsible for paying their tuition, with Peter given the authority to make all of the children’s educational decisions. Over time, the situation continued to deteriorate, with Peter filing multiple lawsuits against his former wife and Julie moved with the two older boys to Crown Heights where they continued in yeshiva, while the four younger boys were sent to public school against their will by their father.

Julie Goffstein – FACEBOOK

As the court battles continued, Peter Goffstein continued to keep the younger children shielded from both their mother and their Jewish heritage, allegedly chopping off one child’s payos, removing the boys’ yarmulkas and making them eat pork. Friends of Julie’s also reported that he smeared urine on one child’s face as a punishment for a religious observance and that Peter repeatedly bullied anyone who supported Julie’s mission of raising her sons in an observant home. Eventually the court forbade Julie from discussing any religious matters with her sons, and she was found in contempt of court for telling one son of her efforts to get him back into yeshiva.

Julie Goffstein – FACEBOOK

While Peter is extremely wealthy, Julie’s financial situation is very bleak, having been stripped of all marital assets by Judge Sieve. His latest decision, holding Julie in contempt of court for being unable to reimburse her ex-husbands court costs and sending her to jail, seems to be the latest obstacle thrown at Julie simply because she has chosen to raise her sons as practicing members of the Jewish faith. Julie’s sons, ranging in age from nine to eighteen are living a life of turmoil, with the younger boys facing their father’s reported harassment and the two older boys now living alone in Crown Heights because of Julie’s imprisonment.

Julie Goffstein – FACEBOOK

1. A Chesed Fund campaign has been set up to help raise money for Julie and help with all legal fees and to gain her immediate release. She has been unable to pay her attorney full due to financial challenges.

Click here to help. To donate via paypal:helpthefamily613@gmail.com.

2. A grassroots efforts on Facebook by The Women’s Coalition has been organizing a call in and email campaign asking Ohio Chief Justice Maureen O’Connor to disqualify Judge Sieve for discrimination and to demand Julie’s release.

3. Other ways to help include pressuring Cincinnati media outlets to cover the story.

4. For Ohio residents to reach out to their elected officials and ask them to advocate for Julie’s release and Judge Sieve’s censure.

5. Those wishing to further help Julie can email Stuart Lichter (slichter@irg.cc), president of Industrial Retail Group, where Peter serves as a senior vice president in the Cincinnati office and ask for Peter Goffstein’s removal because of his unacceptable behavior.

Judge O’Connor can be reached at 614-387-9250 or at maureen.oconnor@scohio.gov

Sample text to send the judge:

Dear Judge O’Connor,

I am contacting you today to protest the discriminatory treatment of Julie Goffstein by Judge Jon Sieve, an extremely biased judge who threw Julie in jail on July 11th.

Julie has been found in contempt for not paying her ex’s attorney’s fees and for contacting her children and is being forced to pay $10,000 for her wealthy ex’s attorney’s fees, which she does not have because Judge Sieve deprived her of her rightful marital assets. She is also being found in contempt for contacting her children, who he unjustly took away from her, ostensibly due to her religious beliefs—which is unconstitutional. Tellingly, he only took the four youngest boys because the father did not want the two oldest, proving that it is not really about religion; it is about empowering the father. He also ordered Julie to pay $500 to a fathers’ rights group before he was rightfully admonished by you.

Judge Sieve claims that the children have experienced emotional distress due to their mother contacting them, but the real harm to the children was caused by him taking four young boys away from their mother, their primary bond, who was a loving, stay-at-home mom.

There are many other things which confirm Judge Sieve’s bias. Please stop the injustice against Julie by disqualifying him and send a message to other judges and the public that discrimination against women in family courts will not be tolerated.

Thank you



By The Chesed Fund


  1. Don’t believe everything that you hear. Not such a simple case. I am Orthodox I have knowledge about this situation and warn everyone to do their own research.

    • I think you should make known what you know. The children are suffering…that’s the most important piece. Their lives should not be turned upside down and inside out. They need stability as best as they can get, and that does include continuing in the lifestyle they were raised in. I am speaking from experience.

  2. I agree with anonymous that Caring Jew should share what he/she knows. We are being asked to contribute money, to make phone calls to officials, to pressure the father’s employer to dismiss him… If there is another side to this story, it’s important to reveal it before people take such actions.

    On the other hand, “Caring Jew” may be a representative of the father who is trying to mislead true caring Jews.

  3. I have no comment on the merit of this case, just on the judicial events.
    If anyone has an update they should post it. But I don’t see it going back to the State Supreme Court after they refused to hear it in the first place.
    *It started here…..
    Hamilton County, Ohio Court of Common Pleas, Domestic Relations Division,

    *Decision was appealed here…….
    Ohio appeals court affirmed the divorce decree issued by Judge Sieve.
    Julie Goffstein filed a notice of appeal with the Ohio Supreme Court, but the Ohio Supreme Court declined to hear the appeal on March 9, 2016.

    *Then it went to the federal level here……
    Judge Sieve requested a motion to dismiss, which was granted.
    United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio
    Judge Susan J. Dlott
    For the foregoing reasons, Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss is GRANTED. Plaintiff’s Complaint is dismissed with prejudice.


    S/Susan J. Dlott
    Judge Susan J. Dlott
    United States District Court
    Case No. 1:16-cv-341 (S.D. Ohio Jun. 2, 2016)

    In the formal legal world a court case that is dismissed with prejudice means that it is dismissed permanently. A case dismissed with prejudice is over and done with, once and for all, and can’t be brought back to court.

  4. Most of these “poor women” articles are written by women. Talk about fake News. Im sure she did something. People just don’t get throw in jail for nothing. lets see th while story. The mans perspective. The judges perspective. You are irresponsible for reporting this in this fashion.

    • it is bcoz USA has been enforcing white knights on feminism in order to cover the actual problems of male irresponsible of his wife. not majority women are gold diggers.

  5. The kids are getting on the down side of this story.
    That is not acceptable from both sides…
    If the mom prefer God over her kids – she is mistaken.
    If the dad prefer his kids suffering because he hates religion – he is mistaken.

    Again, religion is the reason for most bad things in the world. Including this case.

    • RELIGION is MANMADE. GET away from all man made religion and READ the BIBLE in its entirety OLD and NEW testament. WHat do you think Jesus was using to teach with … the OLD testament DUH!. Start researching it on your own and let the BIBLE interpret ITSELF. DO NOT let any interjection of your own thoughts of meaning occur . The bible interprets itself!. All denominations and religions are engineered to CONTROL man. STop listening to MAN , they are corrupt to the core until Jesus steps in and changes you .
      Listen to no MAN!.

  6. As I mentioned in a previous reply there are things that the wife has done during and after the marriage regarding who she might have become “close” to and subsequently married that makes this case not as clear cut as it seems. No, I am not a representative of the “rosha” previous husband but my point is always be careful of what you believe and do your due diligence before donating $ somewhere.

    • Is the dad capable of smearing urine on the child’s face???? Or anything like that???? Is child protective services involved? What’s most important is that the children are physically and emotionally safe. Reading this article, feeling concerned about that in particular.

      • There is nothing else that matters right now!!
        The children are dependent because of their ages and it is incumbent on those with heart, soul and truth to make sure they suffer as little as possible.

  7. Caring Jew doesn’t seem to be so Caring and in fact he is filling his/her responses with innuendo and obfuscation…Do you Caring Jew really care? Do you think a Mother of six children should be in jail? Are you aware of Chillul Hashem…Your response to this situation is to somehow make it seem like the Father is the victim…There is a broken family with a Mother in jail, is that supposed to be her legacy for her kids..Where is the local Chabad Rabbi, why has he not spoken up on behalf of the Mother? Caring Jew, I don’t know how to read between the lines of this story, but I don’t think you have the right to open a Pandora’s box and then retreat without providing concrete proof of wrongdoing..She got ”Close” to someone, is that supposition or fact and was that person a threat to the kids? Please provide details of why this woman deserves in your opinion to be in jail and not receive support through donations. As far as the article goes, where does the smearing of urine knowledge come from. This is a tragic case and as Jews our top priority should be the well being of the children. Where are the Grandparents. This is a messy story, but providing side accusations does not clarify or help the situation at all. This is a horrible and shameful situation and finger pointing about cause should not be made, instead help should be offered.

  8. After having read this I am inclined to believe there are some pieces missing from this story. Just taking the information given at face value I am faced with the fact that either antisemitism or the husband’s “extreme wealth” is playing a huge part in the judge’s decisions. . I am also a little confused as to why we are seeing such old pictures of the children. More information is needed. Tzedakah is a huge value of Jewish life, but…

  9. Its so obvious when you read this article that it is only telling 1/2 the story. Judges don’t give father’s custody without a good reason.

    • Assuming that the judge had good reason is naive. I have seen a judge reverse custody due to a father’s (false) accusations. I was close to all involved. The tactics the father used were similar to this case. In the end, the judge ruled to reverse custody and to limit contact with the mother who had raised the child almost exclusively until that point. But looking over the previous two years, the father had increasingly become hostile to the son’s requests for religious accommodations. The case overall was unfair, primarily due to the financial resources the father had, and the lack of good representation for the mother who did not have financial means. Add in that she did not know how to document properly, so it was his word against hers.
      She ended up having to represent herself against him in court, after negligence on her free attorney’s part had increased the bias of the judge against her.

  10. There is so much to this story that is missing. Do you know how hard it is to get full custody of your kids? Do you know how hard it is to revise a decision of a judge once it is in place? Judges don’t reverse custody decisions lightly and they don’t pull kids from one house to another without any kind of reason and people aren’t sent to jail without just cause. I know nothing about this story, but I know about law and divorce. So don’t believe everything you read, there are key pieces missing.

  11. This is a very misleading article.

    Read the court transcripts, she was jailed for not complying with the court order to enroll one of the children in school and by not allowing the father visitation. As a result of the father taking her to court to comply, she was made to pay his court costs ( as the situation would not be in court if she complied).

    It is also absolutely terrible for anyone to call the fathers work, that is low and disgusting behaviour as his work has nothing to do with anything and you could potentially be sued for intimidation, harassment etc.

    And no I do not know either of the parties involved, I was just interested in the legal aspect and read up on it.


    • Contempt and refusing visitation are common tactics used by abusers to harass and intimidate ex-spouses, and to control the children. Legal documents are not story-tellers. The fact that the father would go against his own son’s wishes for his education is chilling. As a former Jew, the father is certainly not unaware of the honor and prestige that such an education would bring this young man, his parents, and his future family. To demand compliance with his school choice, to demand they eat pork, and live in a hostile environment for their religious beliefs – beliefs this father actually helped to raise them in until recently, and to use the courts to bring such trauma on the children belies his true intent – CONTROL.
      Proceeding in a manner that causes the children’s Mother be jailed shows a level of inflexibility that must not be overlooked.
      As for calling work numbers… a desperate, emotional, abused woman may do things that seem irrational, yet, upon understanding the nature of the damage manipulation and abuse has, this would be recognized as not unusual; that in fact they are red flags that should raise concerns and begin an investigation regarding what might be contributing to her actions.
      This mother might benefit greatly from being assigned an advocate to facilitate safe and productive interactions with the ex-husband.

  12. Alan Black and Grandy, you epitomize the comment(s) I would make if you hadn’t. There is too much missing information, innuendo from other posts and lack of transparency as to evidence. I’ve seen bad decisions in divorce cases which lasted 6 years in New York state due to an intransigente husband who allowed his legal business fail so as to claim poverty and force his wife to pay alimony to him. The legal/court costs were severe for the wife despite winning 100% economic victory in court albeit with shared custody and inability to relocate out of state with a minor. Furthermore, 1600 and 3000 page appeals were made by the husband just to cost his former wife even more grief. Bad divorces happen and they are devastating. I want to know more about the above case before I would contribute a nickel to this woman and her family.

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