Israeli Bus Company Ordered to Fire Employee for Refusing to Divorce Wife
The Jerusalem Rabbinical Court gave Egged 30 days to fire the abusive husband, who refuses to grant his wife a Jewish divorce
Aaron Rabinowitz | Haaretz | Feb 10, 2019
S. and his wife, Y, who married over a decade ago, emigrated from India to Israel, along with their only child. Over the course of their marriage, Y had sustained severe abuse from S, but after they made Aliya, the situation worsened such that on their very first day in Israel, he beat her so badly that the police were summoned. Since then, both Y and her son have suffered repeated abuse.
Three years ago, Y filed for divorce. S maintained that he wanted to restore “shlom bayit” – a peaceful home. The couple agreed to stay together after S promised to refrain from physical and verbal abuse, but he didn’t keep his promise. A violence-filled year later, Y fled the home.
About 10 months ago, the rabbinical court ordered S. to grant Y a get (Jewish write of divorce). But he refused, maintaining his interest in having a peaceful home and declaring that he would only give her a divorce if she waived her share of their joint property.
As a result, the court imposed various sanctions upon him, including requiring him to pay Y 1,500 shekels each month, but to no avail – he continues in his recalcitrance and refuses to release her.
Y. has been represented in her case by attorney and rabbinical court advocate Tehila Cohen of Yad La’isha: the Monica Dennis Goldberg Legal Aid Center and Hotline, an Ohr Torah Stone organization which assists agunot – women who are “chained” to marriage because they are unable to obtain a Jewish divorce.
Cohen eventually concluded that what would hurt S the most would be losing his job. She requested that the rabbinical court utilize a law that allows a man refusing to grant his wife a get to be denied employment at any public agency. Because Egged is subsidized by the state of Israel, she argued, it qualifies as a public agency for this purpose.
Cohen’s request was granted last Thursday by a Jerusalem panel of rabbinical judges headed by Rabbi Uriel Lavi, which ordered the Egged bus cooperative to fire S within 30 days.
The legal aid organization stated this morning that the utilization of this restriction order is another step on the road to Y’s freedom. “We have witnessed the use of a variety of sanctions in the past, and each creative solution such as this gives great hope to other trapped women, that there are ways to release them from the prison of their marriage,” said Yad La’isha director, Pnina Omer.
Attorney and rabbinical court advocate Tehila Cohen added: “Like everyone else, Y deserves to lead a peaceful and happy life. We will not rest until Y receives her freedom and can embark upon a new, better life together with her son.”
Yad La’isha: the Monica Dennis Goldberg Legal Aid Center and Hotline, part of the Ohr Torah Stone network, is the world’s largest organization dedicated to freeing and assisting agunot. Every year, Yad La’isha represents some 150 women in the Israeli rabbinical courts, also providing private investigators where necessary as well as social workers and personal coaches who empower the women while they await their freedom.