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