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After Years of Battle: 74-year-old woman wins writ of divorce

“Sarah” spent years fighting for freedom from her abusive husband, who left their home to move in with another woman and then tried to use a divorce as a way of extorting millions.

Chanan Greenwood | July 5, 2020 | Exclusive to Yisrael Hayom

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After years of battle, an Israeli woman, 74, has finally managed to secure a writ of divorce.

“Sarah” was the oldest agunah (a woman whose husband refuses to grant her a Jewish divorce) of the 1,000 represented by the Monica Dennis Goldberg Yad La’isha Legal Aid Center and Hotline, which helps advocate for women in her situation.

When Sarah was 23, she decided to marry the man she loved, and the couple went on to have four children. Over time, her relationship with her husband deteriorated and turned violent. In 2005, her husband suddenly left the marital home and moved in with another woman, with whom he had been cheating on his wife.

For Sarah, her husband’s departure came as a relief, and she lived in peace for 12 years.

But in 2017, over a decade after leaving her, Sarah’s husband appeared at her door and informed her that he intended to move back in. Sarah refused to take him back, took out a few restraining orders, and decided to seek a divorce. She opened a divorce file with the rabbinate and began the process that she hoped would result in her being granted a get, a Jewish writ of divorce.

Her husband refused to grant her a divorce and tried to extort her. At one point, he offered to “sell” her a get for $2 million. At another point, he said she would only receive a get when she was “in her grave.” Absurdly, none of this stopped him from telling the rabbinate he was interested in reconciling with Sarah.

Sarah reached out to Yad La’isha, which operates under the auspices of the Ohr Torah Stone organization, and they assigned her rabbinical legal counsel. Attorney Tamar Oderberg represented Sarah and managed to force the abusive husband to grant her the divorce.

“Sarah became the oldest woman of the 1,000 women we have managed to liberate, and we feel privileged that we were able to pave her way to freedom,” said Yad La’isha Director Pnina Omer.

“A sense of freedom is good at any age, and Sarah’s battle has given hope to many women who think that it might be too late for them to secure a divorce. We call on all women who are refused writs of divorce to contact us and not give up on their freedom, no matter if they’re 20 or 74. We are here for you,” Omer said.

When the grueling experience was over, Sarah said she was very excited and happy.

“This was never a normal relationship, and it’s never too late to leave a bad relationship like this one,” she said.


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