There are really no words to describe the palpable excitement in the air yesterday at the Tel Aviv rabbinical court, as an incredible, unusual ruling was handed down just in time for Pesach, the Festival of Freedom, releasing N from a quarter-century of abuse.
N was born in an Arabic country without ties to Israel. Married at the tender age of 13 to a merciless sadist, she suffered brutal beatings and rape which began the very night of her wedding. The cruelty was so horrific that N escaped to her parents’ house after the birth of their first child. Her husband took another wife, but when he promised N’s father he’d divorce the new bride, N was returned to the vicious abuse of her marital home.
After the birth of their sixth child, N’s husband beat her within an inch of her life and she once again fled to her parents’ home. Her furious husband responded by murdering her nephew, making it clear to all that N would be next. Against the backdrop of these threats to her life, N was whisked off the USA with the behind-the-scenes help of Israeli government sources. However, because women in her country have no standing, N was forced to leave her children behind.
Lengthy negotiations took place between N’s parents and her husband and N raised huge sums of money so she could ransom her six children. Eventually they all made their way to Israel and began a new chapter of life.
Unceasingly, untiringly striving for freedom
N’s husband, meanwhile, converted to Islam and refused to provide N with the get she needed to be released from the bonds of marriage. At the age of 33, N came to OTS’s Yad La’isha: The Monica Dennis Goldberg Legal Aid Center and Hotline in the hopes of extricating herself from the bonds of marriage and leaving her nightmares behind.
From the day they met, attorney and rabbinical court advocate Tehilla Cohen (pictured, left, with N) has been striving unceasingly, untiringly to attain N’s freedom. No fewer than six rabbinical court tribunals have heard N’s case, passing it quickly from one to another like a hot potato; although each wanted to help, none was able to find a legal solution. But our advocate, Tehilla Cohen, did not give up, continuing to research creative solutions and approach new tribunals. Four months ago she brought the case to Rav Aviran Halevy, the head of the Tel Aviv rabbinical court, who burrowed himself in the sources until he finally uncovered a Jewish legal loophole which would enable N to be freed.
Festival of True Freedom
Yesterday, the ruling was handed down: N’s marriage has been annulled. Like the Exodus from Egypt which we will all be celebrating this Friday night, N has been miraculously redeemed from a slavery she thought would never end. This year — for the first time since she was 13 years old — N will finally celebrate the Festival of Freedom as a true bat chorin – a free woman.