April 12, 2024
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April 12, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Don’t Forget the Divorced and Widowed

I’d like to call attention to the often-ignored divorced/widowed segment of the Orthodox community and to some of the serious problems it faces. Please read with your heads and with your hearts.

The get system: I believe that tying the get to the larger picture of negotiations is a huge mistake. Much like we perform the ceremony of Havdalah right when Shabbat is over, we should perform the get ceremony right when the marriage is over. It should be just what we do, like building the sukkah or reading the Megillah. Do not connect it to custody, assets, visitation, property, debt or anything else. If we treated the get this way we’d eliminate so much of the fallout.

Another huge source of pain is that of divorced/widowed Cohanim who wish to remarry, especially those in middle age. At this age most women are divorced themselves and not ok to marry. The pool of eligible women is super small and the options so limited, it’s heartbreaking to see.

Covering one’s hair: If a woman wishes to continue, great. And thankfully there are many rabbanim who give the psak to uncover without too much fuss. But there are many divorced women in excruciating emotional pain from continuing to cover, and their rabbis refuse to see the pain and allow them to uncover. For many it’s a constant reminder of having to act as a married person and look like one without having the benefits of being married.

Being expected to live without physical affection: It seems quite unhealthy to expect those not able to remarry quickly to remain without for 10, 20 years—or even forever. I have never heard any rabbinic leader address this issue and try to come up with halachic solutions. It’s a shame, really.

Through our current pandemic our leadership has creatively found “loopholes” to allow previously frowned-upon behavior, including allowing Zooming on Yom Tov if the loneliness is just too much.

I don’t pretend to know everything. I’m a moderately learned FFB who has seen a lot. Just as there are chosson/kallah classes when getting married, there ought to be classes when getting divorced, to address the above topics and many more.

I think the right word here, if I’m using my grandmother’s word properly, is “shanda.” It’s completely awful that a huge portion of our community has had its needs so ignored.

I am withholding my name here but am open to receiving messages and to partner in any constructive ideas anyone may have. We must do better!

Name Withheld on Request
The writer welcomes comments or questions at [email protected].

 

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