Oct 20, 2013
Recent news reported on rabbis who were arrested in an FBI raid and accused of plotting to torture a recalcitrant husband in order to give a get (Jewish divorce). This story highlights the desperation of agunot, women who are chained to dead marriages, and underscores the care with which the agunah crisis must be approached. The Organization for the Resolution of Agunot (ORA) wholly condemns the use of violence to free agunot.
ORA works strictly within the confines of halacha (Jewish law) and civil law, and is guided by rabbinic authorities, attorneys, and communal lay leaders in advocating on behalf of women who have been denied a get. ORA always attempts to resolve contested Jewish divorces in an amicable fashion by facilitating a mediated resolution or credible beit din (rabbinical court) process while isolating the get from all other issues to ensure that it is issued unconditionally and in a timely fashion. If and when an amicable resolution to a contested Jewish divorce cannot be reached, ORA utilizes social, communal, legal, and financial pressure to ensure that a get is given. With such an approach, ORA has assisted in the resolution of 220 agunah cases since its founding in 2002, and works on an average of 50 active cases throughout North America, Europe, and Israel at any given time. ORA does not accept payment or contributions of any kind from either party when working on an agunah case.
The refusal to issue a get, as a pattern of controlling behavior, is a form of domestic abuse. As victims of domestic abuse, agunot are among the the most vulnerable members of our society and are regularly preyed upon by those seeking to take advantage of them for personal gain.
We must empower agunot and provide them with an effective alternative to violence. To that end, ORA calls upon all rabbis and members of the Jewish community to a) condemn get-refusal in every circumstance, just as we would never excuse physical battery or any other form of domestic abuse; b) ostracized recalcitrant husbands from the Jewish community; and c) advocate publicly for the freedom of each and every woman who is fighting for a get.
Additionally, we hope that the recent news story reinforces the necessity of a universal adoption of halachic prenuptial agreements for the prevention of get-refusal.