Court Ruling: Shaming for Get Refuser Yochai Cohen
Despite a legal ruling compelling him to do so, for two years Yochai Cohen has refused to grant his wife a get. The Rabbinical Court imposed a series of financial, social, and halachic sanctions – and an unusual clarification was sent directly to the Chabad community in Lod to which he belongs to make sure they uphold the Court’s ruling.
Kobi Nachshoni | May 14, 2020
Continuing the fight against get-refusal: The Rabbinical Court of the Haifa Region has ruled in favor of publicizing the name and photo of Yochai Cohen, who has refused to divorce his wife M. for two years, despite a legal decision compelling him to do so. The dayanim (religious court judges) permitted the wife to employ social shaming and called upon the public to shun him in order to pressure him further – in the hope that he will agree to free her from the failed marriage.
The couple married five years ago and raised two children together until the relationship broke down. M. left their home and filed for divorce. The Court discussed the case, determined that separation was the only solution – and compelled Yochai to grant her a divorce. He appealed the decision, yet even after the appeal was rejected he refused to comply with the court’s decision.
At the request of Yad La’isha: the Monica Dennis Goldberg Legal Aid Center which is representing M., three months ago the court imposed a string of sanctions against the husband, forbidding him to leave the country, to hold a driver’s license, to work in regulated professions, or to have a bank account.
Social sanctions were also employed. His name and picture were publicized and detailed instructions were issued to the Chabad community of Lod, to which he belongs. They were ordered not to speak to him, to maintain physical distance from him, not to inquire into his wellbeing, not to conduct business with him, not to host him, and not to visit him should he fall sick.
The court also ruled that he is forbidden from entering a synagogue, even to say the Mourner’s Kaddish, and that he is not to be called up to the Torah or chosen to lead prayers. For the time being his wife has not fully implemented the decision, preferring to limit publicizing his details in the hope that this would leverage more pressure on the husband before she resorted to widespread shaming.
Direct instruction to the city’s Chabad community: Respect the Court’s Ruling
Recently M. and her representatives discovered that Yochai had been telling the members of his community that the sanctions against him had been lifted. Consequently, Dina Raitchik, the lawyer and rabbinical court advocate from Yad La’isha who represents her, appealed to the court with a special request to officially refute these rumors.
The dayanim accepted the request, and in an unusual step published an exceptional clarification that was sent directly to Cohen’s community, instructing them to uphold the court’s ruling and denounce the get-refuser from the public domain.
Pnina Omer, director of Ohr Torah Stone’s Yad La’isha: The Monica Dennis Goldberg Legal Aid Center for Agunot, stated: “The direct and explicit appeal of the Av Beit Din, Rabbi Daniel Edri, to the Chabad community, to which the get-refusing husband belongs – is very important and admirable.”
Omer added: “We see how the attitude of those close to recalcitrant husbands affects their refusal. Get-refusers find it difficult to remain indifferent in the face of social denunciation, especially when it is based on Rabbinical Court instructions. The community members undoubtedly have immense power to influence the husband, and we are confident that the heads of the Chabad community will make every effort to release the aguna.”