To all readers of Agunah and Her Get.com, First, we want to thank Agunah and her Get for all the wonderful services they provide for Agunos throughout Canada, U.S.A and the world. Your work is needed in Jewish Communities everywhere. May Hashem bless everyone involved in your organization, with long life, health, nachas and simchos in your families. Know that the entire Brighton, Brookline, Crown Heights,and Boro Park Jewish communities support all you are doing. It is unbelievable how many people want to help. You have tapped into a groundswell of support that has been waiting to find a way in which to channel their pent up frustration wi
Israeli rabbinical courts granted authority to rule in cases of 'chained wives' even if neither spouse is an Israeli citizen. For the first time in its history, the State of Israel will provide a solution for Agunot (women who are unable to remarry because their husbands refuse to grant them a religious divorce), as well as men who find themselves in a similar situation, even if they are not Israeli citizens. Today, the Israeli government issued a memorandum which grants the rabbinical courts international authority over cases of Agunot. Another issue which was dealt with is the issue of Jewish men and women, mostly from the fo
A recent conference call provided anonymous listeners with answers to the delicate question "Does the Mizbeach Cry When an Abusive Marriage Ends?" The call was co-hosted by the Sholom Bayis Taskforce, Crown Heights Jewish Community Council and the Adai Ad organization. Yiddishkeit emphasizes the importance of intact families and encourages working on the marriage. Yet, there are some people in terribly abusive marriages for which divorce is the only option, but it is always the last resort after all else has been tried. None of these people make this decision lightly. Mrs. Devora Krasnianski, organizer and moderator of the call, expl
Rachel Bluth The Jewish Press.com She sits on the sofa, so ill at ease
her moist eyes looking down at the floor,
White knuckles, worn hands, twist a tissue to bits,
"Please help me, I can't take anymore!"
Her story unfolds, mixed with tears of great pain
Her words come out haltingly hushed,
Often she stops in mid-sentence for breath;
She needs time and must not be rushed.
The wall clock ticks time going by
As I wait for her to continue to speak,
So much grief etched into her pitiful face,
She begins, in a voice soft and meek…
"My name is Batsheva and I'm 40 years old,
I have five young children at home,
Esther M. Schonfeld, Esq. It continues to amaze me that not all couples are signing Halachic prenuptial agreements to eliminate the issue of Get-Refusal, especially in light of the growing Agunah crisis. When I meet with clients and ask why they did not sign a prenuptial agreement, the response is almost always the same—“I never thought this could happen to me.” Others have admitted that they were told it was not necessary. The newest dispute arises with the International Beit Din, which has been attempting to utilize two Halachic tools to resolve cases where a Get is being withheld or not accepted. The Rabbis use the mec
The Jewish Press.com During the recent Pesach holiday I had the opportunity to reflect on the freedoms we take for granted each day. In this country we are afforded a wide array of freedoms previously denied our ancestors, neighbors, and colleagues. While we may take it for granted, most of these freedoms were obtained through such measures as military action, widespread protest, substantial political maneuvering, legal action, and judicial intervention. When a woman is denied a Get following the disintegration of her marriage, she is denied her freedom. She is denied the freedom to separate herself permanently
Miriam, a former Agunah I finally got my Get. But I had to pay my ex $40,000. Here is my story of pain and extortion. I got married at 26 to Dovid, the son of a prominent NY family who owned a large medical supply company. After only a few weeks, the abuse began. He was physically and verbally abusive, and often threw me out of our apartment. At first, my parents pointed to the vast amount of money spent for our wedding and asked me to try to work it out. When the abuse escalated, they recanted and supported my desire to leave. I walked out seven months after I stood with Dovid under the Chuppah. I thought the Get pr
Yael C.B. Machtinger Ta’anit Esther, the Fast of Esther, marked International Agunah Day, the purpose of which is to publicize the plight of Agunot, “chained” women who are not able to obtain a Get, a religious divorce, from their husbands. The name “Esther” is related to the Hebrew word “hester,” meaning hidden. For nine years, Esther guarded the secret of her religious and familial heritage. As the Talmud notes, she “hid her words.” The Purim story heroine was thus kept silent. How does this connect to this International Agunah Day? Like Esther, the voices of Agunot have been hidden and silenced. Con
Yeshiva World News – Israel Desk, Jerusalem In what is being hailed an unprecedented decision, Rabbanut Av Beis Din Dayan Shlomo Shapira has ruled a husband must give his wife a get after it was proven he was guilty of harshly abusing his wife psychologically. The Beis Din said this type of torture is viewed no less seriously than physical abuse. The Psak Din states: ”הבעל התעלל נפשית קשות באישה ולדעתנו התעללות כזו היא אלימות קשה והיא אינה פחותה מהתעללות גופנית”. It is reported that to date, a Beis Din would not take psychological or verbal
Rabbi Michael Whitman South of the border, rabbis have been able to address the problem of Agunot – women “chained” to their husbands because of the men’s refusal to voluntarily grant a Jewish divorce – by promoting adoption of a prenuptial agreement that includes a stiff financial penalty for recalcitrant spouses. It might be effective, but that type of prenup isn’t enforceable under Canadian law, because courts here won’t uphold monetary penalties imposed by rabbinic authorities. With that in mind, a modern Orthodox Montreal rabbi has crafted his own agreement that he believes is halachically compliant, meets Ca
Allison Josephs The Torah on one foot according to Hillel is “what is hateful to you don’t do to your neighbor.” However, because the process of Jewish divorce, according to Torah law, gives the upper hand to the husband, men will sometimes abuse this power and use a Get (Jewish divorce document) as leverage against their wives in order to negotiate for a more favorable settlement for themselves. Many Orthodox rabbis have spoken out against this practice, declaring that using a Get as leverage is a form of abuse and therefore prohibited. But some rabbis condone this practice with the justification that “the wife was bei
SHOSHANNA KEATS-JASKOLL The Jerusalem Post Laws that already exist can also be utilized to prevent agunot, women chained to their marraiges. It seems that most of what we hear today regarding agunot is what cannot be done. From heads of yeshivot to the regular person on the Internet, organizational announcements, blog posts and Facebook statuses are filled with what is wrong, unacceptable and dangerous about freeing Jewish women chained to their marriages. Doors are closed before they can even be knocked on, and many women have nowhere to turn. The lack of options has led Jewish women to the national m
Rabbi Levi Brackman In Judaism, when a man refuses to give his wife a religious divorce he is taking away her most basic human right – her freedom to live and be who she wants to be. In my 14 years of practicing as a rabbi, I have been asked numerous times to offer counsel and support to couples in failing marriages. Despite the fact that it takes two to tango, often the breakdown of a marriage is more the fault of one party than the other. Yet no matter how the marriage ends and who is at fault, if the husband does not actively agree to give a Get (Jewish religious divorce) immediately after the wife requests i
‘Rising From Divorce’ seeks to engage the insular community with concrete methods to ease children’s pain in the aftermath of an all-too-modern problem. NEW YORK – Coming on the heels of the North American release of “The Get,” an Israeli film about religious divorce in Israel, comes a new video targeted to the Orthodox Jewish community, “Rising from Divorce.” The short film, the first of its kind, stars real people and is designed to educate rather than entertain. “Rising From Divorce” casts no judgment on a couples’ decision to divorce. It doesn’t address the reasons for divorce or try to prevent it.
The Times of Israel As a professional agunah advocate, if I had a penny (or actually, I’ll take a dollar) for every time someone told me, “but there are two sides to every story!” I would be a Jewish Bill Gates. In the many agunah cases I have worked on, I have seen get refusal in a variety of forms. Men who are no longer religious claiming they should not be required to give the get because they are not part of the Jewish community, and men who claim to be deeply religious who argue that it would be a violation of their faith to release their wives. I have seen some people abandon their children and insist th
The Australian Jewish News A VICTORIAN magistrate’s decision could have an important impact on the granting of a gett (Jewish bill of divorce) if a husband refuses to do so. In Orthodox Jewish tradition, a woman who does not receive a gett cannot remarry within the Jewish community and is considered an “agunah”, a woman “chained” to her marriage. While Australian figures are not available, there have been 462 recorded cases of gett refusal in North America in the past five years. In a Victorian court last week, a magistrate broke new ground when she accepted a legal argument that withholding a gett constituted
Dr. Rachel Levmore The Jewish Press.com With International Agunah Day approaching (March 4, Taanit Esther), there is yet another very public story of an agunah fighting for her get. Her name is Viviane Amsalem. Although Viviane is not married to a scion of a rabbinic family or a politically powerful figure, her case has made headlines. All around the world – not only the Jewish world – her dilemma is elucidated in detail, entering the minds and hearts of those who observe her travails. Yes, Viviane can be considered a figment of siblings Ronit and Shlomi Alkabetz’s imaginations, but she is, in a very importan
Rabbi Dr. Eliyahu Saffran, Not every marriage is successful. Despite our desire for each to be perfect, we know the truth is that there are hundreds of reasons a man and a woman, once joined in love and joy, should no longer remain together. When that happens, Judaism recognizes the need to let the marriage come to an end in a way that allows both bride and groom, husband and wife, to grieve for what “could have been” but wasn’t, for promise unrealized, and then go forward with a productive and meaningful life. The Torah envisions the reality of our deepest relationships by providing both the road map for marriage – the
Rabbi Ephraim Sprecher, I recently attended the International Agunah Day Event in Jerusalem. An Agunah (literally a chained wife) is one whose husband deserts her and refuses to give her a Get, thus preventing her from remarrying. The leading Rabbis in every generation have tried to find solutions, even far-fetched ones, for the distress of Agunot. Rabbi Akiva Eiger helped to release an Agunah with the explanation that, "The time is right to release a Jewish wife from being an Agunah, and Jewish women should not be Hefker (ownerless victims who are trapped and might be led to sin). Thus we are going to be lenient with an Aguna
The Jewish Press.com All we need to do to solve the Agunah problem for the next generations is to ensure the widespread use of the “halachic prenuptial agreement,” right? Wrong. Pre-nups are agreements by which the husband, who is obligated by Jewish law to support his wife (mezonot), voluntarily obligates himself to give his wife a sum (usually about $200 per day) for every day he fails to appear before a bet din for purposes of giving her a get. Indeed, these agreements can be enforced in a court of law in the manner of any executed contract. The pre-nup, however, addresses only those cases where the hus
The Jewish Press.com Jewish law mandates that either spouse can request a get but only the husband can grant one. This technicality in the Jewish divorce process has led to nefarious manipulations by husbands who wish to gain the upper hand in divorce settlements or permanently punish and control their wives. Such a flagrant imbalance of power enables a get-threat shakedown. Women, some with many children, are faced with impossible demands, forced to yield homes, assets, even custody; coerced into accepting drastic reductions in spousal and child support payments; driven to rely on welfare and social services to s
The Jewish Press.com There are always two sides. That’s what makes discussion of this issue so difficult for me. But not difficult enough to have a firm opinion on how to handle a religious divorce in Judaism otherwise known as a Get. There is never an excuse to withhold a Get from a woman. NEVER! So strongly do I feel about this issue now, that I can’t envision any circumstance where a Get should not be given when a marriage is no longer viable. Even when there are legitimate issues to discuss like custody of the children or post divorce financial arrangements (e.g. alimony and/or child support). If there i
Dr. Rachel Levmore,
The Jewish Press.com You are the mother of a me’agen – a young man who has turned his wife into an agunah. Sometimes a person in your situation can get so caught up in defending her position or her son’s position that she fails to realize there is no longer a battle. She takes no notice that the oft-repeated justifications are irrelevant after all the issues have been settled – all the issues, that is, aside from the giving of a get. Most significantly, she does not lift her eyes to take note of the effect her actions will have on her family members. For the entire family, immediate and exten
Rabbi Dr. Eliyahu Saffran, Breaking up is hard to do, but we must not have a situation where we marry as Bnai Torah and divorce like terrorists. Getting married is easy – the joy, the grace, the dignity of the wedding day! The beauty of the bride. The nervous anticipation of the groom. The proud and delightful parents. Ending a marriage is hard, hurtful, painful. There is sadness and shame. Where there had once been joy and respect, there is now recrimination. And questions. Hard questions. What had gone wrong? Where should you go from here? Marriage and divorce are not two sides of the same coin but polar opp
By Rabbi Yair Hoffman: The New York Times recently ran a front-page story about someone who took advantage of a heter mei’ah rabbanim to marry a second wife, without having to issue a Jewish divorce document to his first wife. According to the NYT article: "Meir Kin, the new husband, has been divorced for more than seven years, under California’s civil law. But he has refused to give his previous wife the document known as a get, as required by Orthodox Jewish law to end a marriage. In the eyes of religious authorities, the woman he married in 2000 is what is called an agunah—Hebrew for chained wife. Without the get, the wom
By Jennifer Medina, New York Times
March 21, 2014 LAS VEGAS — The wedding was a modest affair, held in a reception hall overlooking an artificial lake tucked behind a suburban strip. But just minutes after it ended, the bride and groom hurriedly scurried past dozens of protesters here who were chanting "Bigamist" and "Shame on you!" One of the wedding guests on Thursday evening glared at the demonstrators, repeatedly hissing: "Mazel tov. Mazel tov. Mazel tov." The bride, in a lace and sequin floor-length gown, grasped the hand of her husband and looked at the crowd in silence. Meir Kin, the new husband, has been divorced
By Beverly Siegel and Barbara Zakheim The tawdry spectacle of "get" refusal and extortion in Jewish divorce has made the rounds in both Jewish and secular media for decades. But the Jewish community now faces an historic opportunity. We have within our hands the data on which to base a plan of action to alleviate the plight of "agunot" and a tool to drastically cut the future risk of chained women. A 2011 survey of agunot in the U.S. and Canada, co-sponsored by the Orthodox Union (OU), Organization for the Resolution of Agunot (ORA), Jewish Women International (JWI) and Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance (JOFA), revealed 462 cas
Dear Yeshiva University Students, I was once a Yeshiva University student like you. I was surrounded by women getting engaged, with their doors decorated and their beautiful diamond rings, and I eagerly looked forward to the day when it would happen to me. However, I didn’t get engaged or married while in Stern. Finding my bashert didn’t come so easily to me. Eventually I did meet someone. He wasn’t Prince Charming and was more controlling than I would have liked, but we had similar hashkafos and felt we could grow together. We dated for 3 months. I asked him for a halachic prenup. He refused. I felt uneasy about it, but
By: Cheryl Kupfer,
The Jewish Press.com Throughout the long dark night of our exile, when we found ourselves at the precarious "mercy" of the inhabitants of the lands we were residing in, each and every Jewish community made it their utmost priority to rescue any man, woman or child who had the misfortune to be kidnapped, captured or unjustly thrown in prison. Whether these unfortunate souls were being held by bandits, landlords or greedy officials eager for ransom money, every effort was made to free them. Pidyon Shevuyim – the redeeming of captives, was a mitzvah that all members of the kehillah participated in. All c
By Martin Berman-Gorvine Moment Magazine In this Passover season, consider the plight of Jewish women whose marriages have ended but whose (former) husbands refuse them a get (bill of divorce), which only the man can grant under the traditional version of halachah (Jewish religious law). The spectacle of thousands of Jewish men behaving like little Pharaohs, in whose hands is the power to enslave or free their former wives, has become sadly familiar. Not so well known is the inner world of the agunah. What are the emotional and spiritual consequences of being “chained” to a dead marriage? I spoke to "Deborah," a
by Talia Lavin, JTA The websites look like those of political prisoners. Under the caption "Free Tamar Now!" there is a close-up photo of demonstrators with signs and megaphones. "Stop the abuse," one sign reads. But FreeTamar.org and the Free Gital Facebook group seek emancipation not from literal bars or chains. Rather, they seek liberation for agunot — so-called chained women being denied religious writs of divorce from their husbands. Under Jewish law, divorces are not final until the husband gives his wife the writ, known as a get. If a husband refuses, the woman cannot remarry; any intimate relationship with anoth
by Layah Lipsker It always fascinated me that Jewish law allows for divorce, even without cause. With all the hoopla about finding your “bashert,” the one person who completes your soul, it would seem reasonable for the Torah to prohibit divorce. “Stick it out,” you might think the G-d of Israel would say. “The Chosen People should know a thing or two about choosing right the first time.” And yet, there is an entire Talmudic tractate called “gittin” that describes the Jewish way to get out of a marriage. At the center of the Jewish divorce ceremony is the Get, a handwritten writ of divorce given by the husband to
By Alexandra Leichter A couple of years ago I received two back-to-back phone calls in my office: The first, from a 21-year-old ultra-Orthodox woman who had escaped her physically abusive 6-month long marriage, only to find herself trapped two years later because her husband refuses to give her a Jewish divorce (a get). She can never remarry or have children as long as her husband remains recalcitrant. The second call was from a Modern Orthodox young woman who was ready to marry the man of her dreams -- only to discover a few weeks before the marriage that her rabbi refused to conduct the ceremony after he learned that the groo
By Rabbi Shlomo Weissmann .....Rabbi Shlomo Weissmann is the Director of the Beth Din of America. One of the great challenges facing our community is the problem of the modern-day agunah: women who remain trapped in marriages that have already functionally ended, because their husbands refuse to grant them a get, a Jewish bill of divorce. But over the course of the past 20 years, one particular solution – the Beth Din of America prenuptialagreement – has emerged as the most promising preventative solution to the agunah problem. It has been so successful that it carries the promise of effectively ending the agunah problem
By Rabbi Efrem Goldberg,
Boca Raton Synagogue “Let my people go!” This refrain, introduced by Moshe in Egypt when he appealed to Pharaoh to liberate the Jewish people from bondage, has not only been referenced throughout Jewish history, but has been embraced by multiple peoples and cultures around the world in campaigns against injustice. In our time, I can vividly remember chanting, “let my people go!” as a child, together with thousands of others, as we rallied on behalf of Soviet Jewry. Who would have ever dreamt that today, in the year 2013/5773, among the only people to whom we need to address the demand "le
May it be Your will, our beloved Father in Heaven,
To bring the tragic plight of Agunos before Your Throne of Glory most favorably.
May Your mercy be aroused by the unbearable suffering they undergo constantly.
Remember them for salvation and mercy from the eternal high heavens.
O Hashem, please draw near to them in their anguish, please deliver unto them a complete redemption.
Please take them out from darkness to light, from sadness to happiness, from suffering to total relief and from hopelessness to hope.
So that Your loved ones will be rescued, please deliver with Your right hand and answer them in the merit of Sarah, Rivkah, R
By: Rabbi Eliyahu Fink,
The Jewish Presss.com The ongoing conversation about the agunah problem in the wake of the Gital Dodelson article in the NY Post consistently raises one impossibly difficult question. I’ve been asked this question many times and in many different ways. In my opinion, it’s the fundamental issue of the agunah crisis. The public is justifiably angry with a husband who does not give a get. But the recalcitrant husband has a pretty compelling argument in his favor. The Torah itself gives the husband absolute authority in the matter of the divorce. If this is Torah law then we are forced to say that
Country Yossi Magazine: In response to our community’s outcry about the areas of emphasis that Rabbis choose these days: discussing esrog specifications instead of addressing the topic of agunot, for example. In their defense, I offer the following comments. One of the places where Hashem speaks of the geulah is, “Vzacharti es brisi Yaakov v’af es brisi Yitzchok, vaf es brisi Avrohom ezkor, v’haaretz ezkor.” The immediate question is, why are the Avos in reverse order? This is also connected to the fact that the first brocha of Shmonei Esrei closes with “Magen Avrohom” and does not list the other two Avos.
By Rabbi Michael Broyde, Rabbi Michael Broyde is a law professor at Emory University, was the founding rabbi of the Young Israel in Atlanta and is a dayan in the Beth Din of America. He has authored many articles on the topic of get meuseh and written a book on the agunah problem. If a husband and wife separate and he no longer desires to remain married to her and she desires to be divorced from him, in such a case divorce is a mitzvah and commanded by Jewish law. . . . One who withholds a Jewish divorce because he desires money for no just cause is a thief. Indeed, he is worse than a thief, as his conduct violates a
By Nathan Lewin,
December 18, 2013 I’ve testified unsuccessfully in Annapolis three times over the past 20 years before committees of the Maryland legislature to urge the enactment of a modified version of the “get bill,” which I personally drafted in 1982 at the urging of the late Rabbi Moshe Sherer, z”l, chief executive of Agudath Israel of America. On the first two occasions, I was accompanied by Rabbi Herman Neuberger, z”l, of the Ner Israel Yeshiva in Baltimore. The “get law” was adopted by the New York Legislature and signed by Governor Mario Cuomo in 1983. It withholds a civil divorce from any spouse who
Darryle and Michael Gillman of Lincolnwood were determined to get the story out — to make sure others knew about the nightmare that their daughter was forced to endure for years. They urgently told that story to local documentary filmmaker Beverly Siegel, and as disturbing and astonishing as it was, Siegel wasn’t in a position to jump into it right away. But once she and filmmaking partner Leta Lenik started, they knew they would not let go until “Women Unchained” was completed. The documentary, which was eight years in the making, is a comprehensively-assembled examination of the heartbreaking and infuriating difficulty that wo
Removing Barriers to Religious Remarriage in Canada: Rights and Remedies
Jewish Divorce, Remarriage and the Problem of Consent and the “Get” SFLRP/1997-001
Sections 2(4)-(7) and 56(5)-(7) of the Family Law Act, 1986 [para1] Although the Family Law Act provisions relating to religious remarriage could apply to any religion, ss. 2(4) to (7) and 56(5) to (7) of the Family Law Act were designed and developed to help solve a serious problem facing the Jewish community in Ontario. Under Jewish traditional laws, when a man and a woman seek a divorce a Jewish man gives a Jewish woman a piece of paper consenting to a bill of divorce or