WANTED: A Plea to the Public – “Help us find our husbands who abandoned us”
by Kobi Nachshoni | YNet News | 17 April, 2019
The names Yizhar, Ronen, Hermann, Michael, Yitzhak and Erez are at the top of the Israeli Rabbinical Courts’ list of most wanted get-refusers. In some of their pictures they are smiling; some were photographed with their children on their shoulders; others wear the hat and garb associated with the ultra-Orthodox and a beard decorates their faces. Not one of the pictures hint at the misery and cruelty they have inflicted upon their spouse.
A letter sent by the six wives of these men, all represented by OTS’s Yad La’isha: The Monica Dennis Goldberg Legal Aid Center, calls upon the heads of all the parties elected in last week’s Knesset elections to join in the struggle against get-recalcitrance. The letter, sent through Yad La’isha’s director, Pnina Omer, implores Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the heads of all the elected political parties on the eve of Pesach, the Festival of Freedom, not to forget or forsake them and all other agunot once their new government is formed.
“In the name of of 52 collective years of being held in chains by our husbands, we implore you as lawmakers and the entire Israeli society to help us in our struggle for independence,” they wrote. “Our jailers have names and faces, and they live among us. Anyone who can, should help us find these criminals and help set us free.”
In the letter, Omer also added, “It is incumbent upon the Israeli public, the legal system and all parties in Israel to unite and bring about moral justice for these women.”
“Even if you do not get along, there is a way to end a relationship,” said Dina Golan, an aguna of 17 years who signed on the Yad La’isha letter. “Why hurt a family and make someone miserable in this way? It’s not only that I lost the ability to continue life,” she said, “the children have lost their father, too. It’s simply cruel and ugly behavior and I hope we will receive assistance from Israeli citizens in locating our husbands, and from politicians who will help us through the legal and legislative systems to prevent future families from experiencing this kind of suffering.”
Other signators to the letter were Yad La’isha clients Orli Vital (4 years); Rachel Oshami (12 years); Suzi Fried (5 years); Marganit Skittel (10 years); Chaya Eisenbach (4 years).
There are many women in Israel today who are being denied a divorce – whose husbands are refusing to allow them to continue with their lives. Some have husbands who have fled the country or otherwise disappeared. Today, it is not possible to impose a get, but finding a recalcitrant husband grants the ability to impose severe sanctions on him, from the revocation of a driver’s license or preventing him from leaving the country, to arrest and imprisonment. Nevertheless, many women remain agunot.
Rabbi Kenneth Brander, President and Rosh HaYeshiva of Ohr Torah Stone, says: “To our great distress, the get, which is a tool of protection, has been weaponized and used against scorned spouses. Thousands of Jewish women around the world are being held hostage by husbands who refuse to give their spouses the get they need and deserve. Not only does this spiritual plague create misery for the aguna, it also devastates children and extended families, and casts darkness over the ideals of Torah. As Jews, our mandate is not curse the darkness, but rather to add more light. We must work proactively to marshal the resources we currently have at our disposal, even as we search for new solutions.”