Jul 26, 2012
"Thank you from the bottom of my heart for all that you have done to help me
get my get. I couldn't have done it without your help and dedication."
-Shella, a recently freed agunah
We are very excited to announce the resolution of our 180th agunah case! This incredible achievement is the culmination of a tremendous investment of ORA's staff time and resources. It is due to the generosity of our supporters that we continue to advocate on behalf of the women in our communities who are most vulnerable and have nowhere else to turn. Here are the stories behind resolved cases 171, 178, 179, and 180: 171: Pressure From Family Members Frees Agunah After 12 Years Rose and Rafi of Brooklyn were civilly divorced in 2000, and a seiruv (contempt order by beit din) was issued against Rafi in 2007. Rafi’s demanded $600,000 in exchange for the get. After trying unsuccessfully to convince Rafi to give a get unconditionally, ORA organized several protest rallies against him. Rafi fled Brooklyn, so ORA staff tracked him down in Florida and in Central America. Rafi eventually returned to Brooklyn to live with his elderly mother. ORA staff encouraged Rafi’s children to put pressure on their grandmother, believing she played a key role in resolving this case, given her ability to tell Rafi that he could give a get or get out of her house. For years, the children were afraid to put pressure on their grandmother and the case remained stagnant. However, shortly before the wedding of one of Rose and Rafi's sons, the son told his grandmother, “I love you, but if you want to come to my wedding, you must tell my father to give a get." Just days before the wedding, a get was written and Rose received her freedom. Rose's case demonstrates the unique power of family members to convince their relatives to do the right thing. 178: ORA Provides Emotional and Legal Support to an Agunah Leora and her husband, Yaakov, had been married for some time and had several children together. Yaakov was very controlling and emotionally abusive to Leora, and she had been unsuccessful for a number of years in extricating herself from the relationship. Leora contacted us after the couple went to a local beit din that did not understand how to navigate the abusive dynamics of the relationship. ORA assisted Leora in opening a case in another beit din, and found an attorney to represent Leora pro bono at the hearing. ORA also provided Leora with the information and emotional support she needed to effectively advocate for her own needs and get out of the marriage. ORA helped facilitate extensive communication between Leora, Yaakov, and the beit din. As a result of the beit din hearing, Yaakov gave the get and Leora was able to start a new life independently. 179: ORA Ensures Issuance of a Get Without Concessions on Custody & Visitation Elaine and her husband Jonathan were married for several years with one son. Jonathan had been refusing to give a get to Elaine unless she consented to his terms for custody and visitation. However, based on court and medical records, Elaine had valid reasons to be concerned for the safety of her son. By working extensively with rabbis, mediators, batei din, and the parties, ORA was able to help the parties reach a fair settlement on financial issues and ensure the issuance of a get while leaving matters of custody and visitation to the court system. In addition, ORA provided critical emotional support towards Elaine throughout this process, and kept up morale among the many parties involved. 180: ORA’s Innovative Legal Strategy Thwarts Get-Extortion Shella suffered as an agunah for nearly four years. After a marriage that lasted less than three years, Shella left the marital home due to serious concerns for her safety and the safety of their young daughter. Though their civil divorce was finalized in June 2010, Shella's ex-husband refused to issue her a get. ORA assisted Shella in navigating the beit din process, and a seiruv (order of contempt) was issued against her ex-husband by the Beth Din of America in October 2010. Her ex-husband made it clear that he wanted to use the get to extort money from Shella. Even an article in the New York Daily News didn't sway him! In coordination with the Beth Din of America, ORA devised an innovative legal strategy to pressure Shella's ex-husband to issue the get. The tactic proved successful, and Shella finally received her get and achieved her freedom!