Thursday, January 27, 2022

(Courtesy of Ohr Torah Stone) Thanks in large part to a police checkpoint set up to identify people breaking Israel’s ongoing lockdown, a man who had been refusing his wife’s request for a Jewish divorce was arrested and soon thereafter consented to her request.

The wife had filed for divorce over four years ago. After coming to a court-arranged agreement to proceed with the divorce in 2018, the husband reneged on the agreement and had since refused to grant a get freeing his wife from the marriage.

Five weeks ago, after subsequent deliberations failed to reach an agreement, the court issued an arrest warrant against the man and his information was handed over to the Israel Police. Through the involvement of the Ohr Torah Stone Yad La’isha Legal Aid Center which advocates on behalf of agunot (women trapped in marriage), efforts were intensified to force the husband to release the get.

Yad La’isha, The Monica Dennis Goldberg Legal Aid Center, is the world’s largest support center for agunot. The women advocates of the center’s four Israeli branches represent clients in the rabbinical and civil courts, while staff social workers provide essential social services for the women and their children.

With news of the warrant, the man left his job and even his family, telling his children that he was being tormented by their mother. His whereabouts remained unknown until earlier this week when he was stopped at a police checkpoint in the Modiin area that had been set up as part of the nationwide Corona lockdown. Upon presentation of his identification to the attentive officer manning the checkpoint, the man was immediately taken into custody. After spending the night in jail, he then agreed to issue the get unconditionally.

After gaining her freedom, the wife responded to the events today saying, “I have no words to express my gratitude to God and to his remarkable messengers from Yad La’isha and in particular the incredible Adv. Tehila Cohen. For the past four years I have been trapped and these past months Tehila has accompanied me going above and beyond in order to free me from this status. The professionalism, dedication and care and countless hours working on my case are just a small part of the support I received. I also want to thank the Rabbinical Court who worked over the Sukkot holiday period to help secure the get.”

Yad La’isha strives to raise awareness to the plight of agunot in the public and political spheres, while promoting prenuptial agreements and other preventative measures so as to avoid future cases of trapped women and ensure a brighter and more just future.

Pnina Omer, director of Ohr Torah Stone’s Yad La’isha, also expressed her thanks to the Rabbinical Court for working to expedite the resolution over the holiday and said, “Over and over again we’re exposed to these stories of women being extorted as part of divorce proceedings. The get has become a halachically endorsed tool that can be abused to extort, control and threaten a spouse. We can’t continue to watch this happen. I take this opportunity to once again turn to the relevant leaders to take responsibility and find halachic solutions that will address agunot and get-refusers. We have a moral responsibility towards our fellow Jewish women that they not be abandoned to suffer and be held hostage.”

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