153: Get Coordination and Facilitation: Technical Barriers Won’t Stand in the Way of a Woman’s Freedom
Judy lives outside of a major Jewish community. Because coordinating a get requires the presence of a highly trained rabbinic scribe, it is difficult to write in a place where there is no local beit din. For Judy, it meant flying in a rabbi from out of state at significant cost. When her ex-husband failed to attend a scheduled and agreed-upon get appointment, after the rabbi had flown in at Judy's expense, she called ORA. Judy's ex-husband was very difficult to work with, and ORA caseworkers spent weeks wrangling with him over basic details of the get appointment. Eventually, having exhausted his excuses and under the threat of us publicizing his recalcitrance, he gave her the get. With ORA's help, Judy was granted her freedom. ORA also assisted Judy in covering the cost of the final get appointment.
150: A Secular Agunah Receives Her Get
Upon leaving his wife, the husband took off to Israel to avoid the entire civil divorce proceeding. Though not Orthodox, the wife is traditionally Jewish and recognized the importance of a get, which she knew she could not secure in civil court. ORA reached out to and befriended the husband in Israel, convincing him that a get was in his best interests and would be arranged simply and quickly. An ORA representative in Israel arranged for the hearing and a get was given.
147: "The Rally Convinced Me"
While their case continued to drag out in civil court, the husband refused to appear before beit din to adjudicate the issuance of a get. A seruv was therefore issued against him. After ORA staff tried for four months to try to arrange an amicable get proceeding, ORA organized a protest rally in front of the husband’s office building. Although it didn't work the first time, hours before a second rally, he finally agreed to appear before beit din. The beit din ruled that a get must be issued. The husband complied, and at the get proceeding, when asked by the beit din why he finally capitulated, he stated that he only agreed to give the get due to the threat of a second rally.
146: After Contentious Divorce Process, Get Produced
Locked in a heavily contentious divorce, the husband and wife continually had explosive and volatile interactions. Though a restraining order had been issued against the husband, and custody and child support were already decided, the parties had reached a bitter impasse. ORA advocated for the woman at beit din, and a seruv was issued against the husband. ORA staff spent months reaching out to instrumental rabbis and the parties’ respective attorneys, organizing various meetings in attempts to reach an amicable settlement of all outstanding issues. Finally, ORA staff arranged for an unconditional get to be issued at the wife’s attorney’s office and assisted the parties in reaching and drafting a final divorce agreement.
131-140: A Summary of Three
The husband had been living out of the country for the past dozen or so years with his new wife and child. ORA reached out to the husband, who had not been contacted for many years, and facilitated a dialogue with him. We arranged for funding for the get process and coordinated with a beit din for the get process to take place in a very distant country.
Due to miscommunication between the two parties and an unwillingness to work together, beit din proceedings had been stalled for months. Despite having children together, the two sides would not speak. Within a few days of ORA getting involved and communicating directly with both parties, a get was executed.
ORA assisted in pushing forward the beit din process for a couple who had been separated for over three years and were in the midst of lengthy civil proceedings. After many hours of negotiation between the two parties, a final marriage settlement that was agreeable to both parties was drawn up and executed, and the wife received a get.
130: ORA Builds Community Network to Free Agunah
Shifra and Jake were married for ten years and had a child together. The couple separated in 2008. When approached regarding a get, Jake continually responded with a variety of demands. After working with a local and national beit din, a seruv was finally issued against Jake for his refusal to appear before them.
With the seruv in hand, ORA approached the husband's family and attorney and attempted to negotiate an non-extortionary settlement. When that amicable approach proved futile, ORA contacted the husband's rabbi. We also informed Jake that unless he appeared before the beit din, we would continue our plan to publicly inform his community about the abuse being perpetrated against Shifra. Within a few days, the husband made an appointment for a get hearing. After lengthy mediation at the hearing and with the invaluable assistance of Shifra's rabbi, Shifra received her get. Following only two months of involvement by ORA and after waiting for nearly two years, Shifra finally received her get.
Shifra won her freedom, and was able to begin the next stage in her life. This is a common situation in which we were able to utilize our network of connections and communal support to directly resolve a case. Successes such as this one encourage us to continue our work.
100: A Resolution and a Milestone
Almost two years since ORA first received a call from Rachel, an unconditional get was given, marking our 100th resolved case. Rachel and Meir were married for 15 years before separating. Their daughter, Bella, was only two years old when Rachel separated from Meir, citing domestic and emotional abuse as causes. An order of protection was placed against the husband for fear that he would violently attack his daughter and wife. At first it seemed as though the separation would simply be a segue into a divorce resolution, but Meir was contacted by a group of people who convinced him that the get could be used as leverage in exchange for a settlement of his choosing.
Rachel contacted ORA after trying unsuccessfully to procure a get for a year and a half. After speaking with all of the parties, our first step was to find her an excellent attorney who could represent her throughout the process. But our subsequent efforts to contact family members, neighbors, and employers were fruitless. After many failed attempts at mediation and extensive consultations with rabbis in two different countries, Rachel still was without a get.
In June 2009, we began facilitating a settlement discussion for the third time, and it looked as though an agreement would finally be reached. Arrangements were made to sign the deal in front of a legitimate beit din so that we could ensure the get would be given immediately. Rachel called us crying tears of joy, because she never thought this day would come. The pent-up stress from the years of waiting and sacrifices endured, combined with the elation and relief of freedom, left her almost speechless. But, we heard a distinct "Thank you."
Rachel is now free to start her new life with her beautiful daughter, and ORA is proud to say that we have resolved our 100th case in six years.