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ORA Resolves 200th Agunah Case


Jul 10, 2013

"I have seen firsthand the enormous efforts and the true sincerity with which you undertake the amazing work that you do. Your care and determination are remarkable. I am so grateful for your involvement and help when I needed it." -A recently freed agunah

The nine days have historically been a period of pain and suffering for the Jewish people. As we yearn to rebuild Jerusalem, there are unfortunately women in our community who dream of rebuilding their own homes but cannot move forward with their lives. With ORA's help, over 200 women have been able to move past the extraordinarily difficult experience of being an agunah and start anew.

Your support enables us to advocate on behalf of agunot. Last week, we reached the incredible milestone of resolving our 200th case, and, in the past few days, two more women have gained their freedom as well. We are currently working on over 50 agunah cases, and our ability to assist these women is dependent upon your support. Please consider a generous gift of $200 -- or an amount of your choosing -- in honor of the 200 agunot ORA has helped free.

Here are the stories behind resolved cases 185, 188, 189, 192, 196, 198, and 200:

Case #185: Elaine and Daniel separated after a rocky and abusive 8 month marriage, and shortly thereafter, Elaine asked Daniel for a get. Daniel and Elaine agreed to adjudicate their divorce in a particular beit din, but they were unable to reach an agreement and the beit din would not push for the get. At that point, Elaine reached out to ORA for help in obtaining her get. When ORA contacted Daniel, he threatened that he would not issue Elaine a get for several years in order to make her suffer. Shortly thereafter, Daniel offered to give a get in exchange for $100,000. Finally, after hours speaking with Daniel, an ORA caseworker was able to convince him that his expectations were unrealistic, and thereby move towards an arrangement that both Elaine and Daniel could agreed to. However, when the couple appeared before beit din to arrange the get, things began to fall apart, and it seemed that Daniel would walk out, leaving Elaine bound in chains. Fortunately, the ORA caseworker who was present on the scene intervened and successfully mediated between Daniel and Elaine. With the help of ORA’s involvement, Elaine received her get that day!

Case #188: Judy suffered as an agunah for over four years. Judy and Mark’s civil divorce was far from amicable, involving months of failed mediation attempts and significant contested financials claims. Mark was not happy with the settlement finally agreed to in court, and refused to give the get until certain claims were settled. After another year of waiting, Judy approached a beit din to petition for a get. When that process failed, Judy contacted ORA. ORA opened up lines of communication between all the parties involved, and Mark eventually agreed to go to beit din in order to present his financial claims. Mark became unresponsive about scheduling a hearing, and the ORA caseworker followed up relentlessly. Due to ORA’s persistence, Mark decided to forgo the beit din hearing for financial claims and gave the get unconditionally, thereby setting Judy free.

Case #189: After a 20 year marriage, Yonatan left Shira and their six children to live with his non-Jewish girlfriend. Shira contacted a beit din to handle the issuance of a get, but when Yonatan was unresponsive and a seruv was issued against him, Shira contacted ORA for help. ORA reached out to Yonatan, and the ORA caseworker understood through their conversations that, although Yonatan left the family and was openly living with his non-Jewish girlfriend, he still delusively believed that he and Shira were going to get back together. ORA was able to help Yonatan realize that this was an unrealistic expectation, and began to informally mediate between the two parties. Mediation seemed to be going smoothly, but Yonatan became unresponsive and ceased to continue discussions. Eventually, ORA was left with no choice but to take a harder stance against Yonatan, and informed him that they planned to hold a peaceful demonstration against him unless he issued Shira a get. A few days later, Yonatan reached out to Shira with a fair settlement offer and agreed to issue the get. Due to the impending pressure of the rally, Yonatan gave Shira the get.

Case #192: Devorah waited for her get for over 3 years. Only six months after she and Yishai were married, Devorah left due to Yishai’s physically and emotionally abusive behavior. Although Devorah wanted to end their marriage, Yishai would not accept that, and refused to issue her a get. Devorah had previously contacted a beit din to begin the divorce proceedings, but the process had stalled and no movement in the case was being made. Now, having been separated from Yishai for nearly two years, Devorah contacted ORA for help receiving her get. The ORA caseworker worked to restart the beit din proceedings, and constantly facilitated conversation Yishai, Devorah, the beit din, and a number of other parties involved in the case. ORA helped set up a meeting between Devorah and Yishai, and Yishai agreed that if after the meeting Devorah still did not want to live with him, then he would give her a get. Finally, after years of waiting, Devorah received her get and was set free!

Case #196: After enduring years of physical and emotional abuse at the hands of her husband, Dina finally decided to leave her 9 year marriage with Eli. Although Dina repeatedly asked Eli for a get, he continuously refused to comply, or would promise to give the get at a certain date and then back out at the last minute. Dina approached a beit din for help, and when the beit din process stalled she turned to ORA for guidance. ORA played an integral role in moving the case forward, and, through ORA’s facilitation between all the parties involved, Dina finally received her get after over two and a half years of painful suffering. Upon receiving her get, Dina stated that ORA was “her rock” throughout the difficult process, and was very thankful for all the hard work and support she received from ORA.

Case #198: Beth suffered for 10 years as an agunah before gaining her freedom. Upon separation, Beth and Tzvi tried to adjudicate their dispute over the get in beit din, but Tzvi was uncooperative and the beit din process stalled. After a significant amount of time passed with no movement towards a get, Beth contacted ORA for help, and ORA worked to restart the beit din process in a different beit din (the third they had tried). Just before they were about to issue a seruv against him, Tzvi agreed to appear before the beit din on condition that Beth push off the civil court proceedings to a later date. Beth agreed, and a date for the beit din hearing was set. At the hearing, Beth received her get! ORA’s constant communication between Beth, Tzvi, and the various batei din was essential to moving the case forward, and when Beth received her get, she said that ORA was the “catalyst” in helping her achieve her freedom.

Case #200: Rachel was separated from her husband Jason, who had been physically and emotionally abusive during their marriage, for over three years before she finally received her get. When Rachel first contacted ORA, she was extremely hesitant about going forward with any kind of beit din process, and ORA guided her through the turbulent twists and turns of navigating the beit din system. At the same time, ORA reached out to Jason and made it clear to him that they were on the case, and that the get issue was not going to go away. Through extensive conversations between ORA and the parties, it became clear that both sides were unhappy with the current visitation arrangement, and that was the issue which was standing in the way of their participation in the beit din process. While working very closely with the beit din and other local rabbis, ORA paved the way for Jason and Rachel to establish a new visitation arrangement that was mutually beneficial and addressed both parties' needs and interests. With the visitation issue settled, Rachel received her get!

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