I support agunot, but I’m not the “rally type.” Besides, will rallying even make a difference? There must be a quieter way of resolving the situation. And in front of the parents’ house? What did they do to deserve this?
If any of these thoughts have crossed your mind, you are not alone. Chanting in front of someone’s house is inherently uncomfortable, and few people feel compelled to do this without good reason. At the Organization for the Resolution of Agunot (ORA) we feel that it is crucially important for readers of this paper to attend our upcoming rally on behalf of a member of the Bergen County community whose husband, Mr. Ari Satz, is refusing to grant her a get. I hope that by addressing some of the above questions, we can dispel any hesitations you may have about joining our rally this coming Sunday.
1. Rallies are a last resort. ORA works on approximately 75 active agunah cases at any given time. Strategies for each case vary, and it is not as common as you may think for a case to become public. Before publicizing any case, numerous attempts are made to reach out to the recalcitrant individual and mediate a resolution. If these attempts fail, family members, friends, rabbonim and legal professionals are often asked to intervene in any way that they can in order to work towards an amicable resolution. Only after all reasonable efforts have been made to resolve the situation amicably will ORA begin to publicize the case. Publicity efforts can take different forms and before each effort, another attempt at outreach and resolution is made. Every step we take is done with the approval of our poskim and legal council.
2. Rallies do help. In the best case scenario, the threat of a rally or the rally itself convinces the recalcitrant party to issue a get. But the success of a rally isn’t binary. It has far-reaching benefits, even when a get does not materialize as a direct result. A rally conveys the message that we will stop at nothing to ensure the issuance of a kosher get, and may encourage the recalcitrant spouse to return to a more amicable forum such as a bet din or civil mediation. It also helps spread the word. Shortly before and after a rally, family and community members who were otherwise unaware of the situation will reach out to ORA case advocates with helpful information or will themselves try to convince the recalcitrant party to end his abuse. More generally, rallies can deter future potential get-refusers, by making it clear that this type of abuse is not accepted in our community. And if nothing else, rallies empower the agunah. It is easy for a victim of get-refusal to lose hope and feel trapped; the least we can do is show our unwavering support and give her the strength to continue her fight for her unconditional freedom.
3. Rallies hold more than just the get-refuser accountable. In our over 21 years of experience, we have found that get-refusers rarely exist in a vacuum. Their actions or inactions are often supported by family members and friends, who perpetuate the withholding of the get and must be called out as well. As a result, our rally locations are carefully selected to convey this point and to dissuade family members from providing lodging or any kind of monetary support to the get-refuser. Because we understand the consequences of unfairly drawing attention to people who are truly not involved, we engage in significant research before finalizing a rally location. This includes spending a considerable amount of time attempting to speak with family members to gauge their involvement and ask them to renounce their support of the get-refuser. In times of uncertainty, we consult with our poskim about whether it is appropriate.
If the above reasons do not yet have you convinced, consider this: no one is really a “rally person.” After all, who wants to spend a beautiful Sunday morning, especially just days before Shavuot, drawing attention to a communal ill? Yet, kol yisrael arevim ze bazaeh, we are all responsible for one another. We must each do our part to rid our community of this abhorrent and abusive behavior. The more people in attendance on Sunday, the louder this message becomes and the stronger we stand united with a woman who has been waiting almost five years for her freedom.
Please consider joining us at 11 a.m. this Sunday, May 21 at 38 Carlton Road in Monsey, New York, and feel free to reach out at [email protected] with any questions or concerns.Keshet Starr, CEO, ORA