After 1948, although most ultra-Orthodox leaders reached some accommodation with the newfound Jewish state, Neturei Karta, the most extreme anti-Zionist group, persisted in its complete rejection of Israel. This movement was rocked by scandal in 1965 when its longtime leader Amram Blau married Ruth Ben-David, a French convert to Judaism nearly 26 years his junior—despite a rabbinical court’s order not to proceed. When he defied the court, his followers turned against him; his movement fractured and went into decline. As Yair Ettinger writes, Blau’s newly opened personal archive reveals much about this unlikely union:
In the boxes comprising Blau’s private archive [are] documents, wall posters, private correspondence relating to the wedding, and Ben-David’s k’tubah (marriage contract). Born to Catholic parents in France as Madeleine Feraille, Ben-David (1920-2000) played an active role in the French resistance during World War II, attended university, married, and gave birth to a son. It was only at that point in her life that she began to show a deep interest in Judaism. In 1952, she converted and divorced her husband. . . .
[I]n 1962, she assisted in smuggling out of Israel an Israeli child, Yossele Schumacher, who was kidnapped and taken abroad by his grandparents with Neturei Karta’s help. The grandparents had abducted the child in defiance of a court order: they wanted to continue raising him as an ultra-Orthodox Jew in light of the fact that his parents were no longer religious. Interrogated by Israeli security officials, Ben-David broke down and the Mossad found the child, who was returned to Israel and his parents’ care. In Israel’s ultra-Orthodox community, Ben-David became a heroine and was thus much sought after as a prospective match. . . .
On the night of September 2, 1965, the wedding was held in a Bnei Brak yeshiva, in the presence of 30 guests. “Rabbi Amram marries the convert in a midnight wedding ceremony,” reported Yediot Aḥronot in its banner headline. The entire country . . . already knew who “Rabbi Amram” was and the identity of the “convert.”
In the view [of the researcher Kimmy Kaplan], Blau did not know in advance what price he would pay for his decision to marry Ben-David.