Dr. Patricia Lucard (pictured, left) was married in a civil ceremony abroad in 1982. But when the couple separated in 1995, her husband – an atheist – turned to the Israeli rabbinical courts. Why? First of all, extortion: he conditioned her divorce on being exempted from paying child support for their two children and on receiving half of her apartment’s worth. Second of all: simple malice. “He told me that I would remain a chained woman forever,” relates Patricia.
Patricia underwent an emotionally and financially-draining, years-long process of rabbinical court hearings and appeals, only to be turned down in a 2001 Supreme Rabbinical Court ruling which stated that by not accepting her husband’s demands, she was “chaining herself”. Meanwhile, her husband, a professor at a US university, remarried and became a father again…
About a year ago, Patricia found Yad L’isha: the Monica Dennis Goldberg Legal Aid Center and Hotline. “Other advocates would probably have shied away from re-opening a case that was already heard in the Supreme Rabbinical Court, but to us it was evident that this ruling could be overturned,” says Rabbinical Court Advocate and civil lawyer Tehilla Cohen. “I built a case on solid halakhic grounds and reopened the file.” Ultimately, through creative and unusual methods and building on the excellent relationships Yad L’isha has established through years of experience in the courts, Tehilla was able to convince the judges to hand down a ruling annulling the marriage.
“I would like my story to serve as an inspiration and to offer hope to all women who have married in a civil marriage, in Israel and abroad,” said the excited Patricia last night, adding: “I feel compelled to share with everyone what Yad Laisha has done for me.”