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 seruv 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 won her freedom!
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 refused 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.
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 ORA 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.
171: Pressure From Family Members Frees Agunah After 12 Years
Rose and Rafi of Brooklyn were civilly divorced in 2000, and a seruv 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, but we tracked him down in Florida and in Central America. Rafi eventually returned to Brooklyn to live with his elderly mother. We encouraged Rafi’s children to put pressure on their grandmother. We believed she played a key role in resolving the case, because she could make Rafi's living with her conditioned on the issuance of a get. For years, the children were afraid to put pressure on their grandmother and the case stagnated. 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 power of family members to convince their relatives to do the right thing.
158: Four Years of Relentless Advocacy Results in a Get for an Agunah of 10 Years
Chani's marriage began to fall apart 15 years ago. She tried for five years to work things out with her ex-husband, to no avail. She left the house and pursued a painful struggle for a get. Her ex-husband would not stop controlling her, and refused to set her free. Chani called ORA in July of 2007, and we pursued an aggressive strategy to convince him to give the get. Using outside-the-box tactics, and in partnership with community lay-leaders, attorneys, and rabbis, we never gave up on Chani. Due to our coordination, her ex-husband served nine months in jail for withholding the get. However, he was eventually bailed out, and persisted in his recalcitrance. Eventually, we were able to get him incarcerated once again. This time, he had had enough. Chani is finally free.
156: Marriage Annulment Frees an Agunah of 10 Years
Naava and her ex-husband are from Yemen. At the time we got involved, she had lived in the U.S. for two years, and her brother, Yossi, had been here for nearly two decades. Yossi reached out to us to help Naava, who had been waiting for a get for ten years! We researched their community in Yemen and found out that proper halachic practice was not always followed during Jewish marriage ceremonies. We compiled our evidence and convened an ad hoc beit din comprised of prominent roshei yeshiva, who ruled that Naava's marriage was not conducted properly. Therefore, she does not require a get.
Rabbis employ such tactics, when possible, as a last resort, when a get cannot otherwise be procured. Naava is fortunate that her circumstances permitted such a lenient ruling by the beit din, whereas most women who come to us had been in marriages which were consecrated properly, thereby requiring a get under all conditions.