Halakhic Prenup Campaign to Prevent Get-Abuse
For the second year in a row, Ohr Torah Stone has launched a campaign in print and digital media during Israel’s most popular wedding season to raise awareness of the importance of signing a halakhic prenuptial agreement
With the sun shining down on the cities of Judea and the courtyards of Jerusalem, summer is now upon us – and with it, wedding season. Once again, couples of all ages and backgrounds are gathering together under the wedding canopy, celebrating the beginning of the new chapter in their lives which they will, hopefully, enjoy together for a minimum of 120 years.
And though no one thinks that it could possibly happen to them, statistically some of these marriages will end in divorce. Still others will remain chained to unviable or nonexistent marriages, with a recalcitrant husband refusing to grant his estranged wife a get and keeping her chained to him against her will, unable to move forward.
Many cases of get-refusal can be avoided by signing a halakhic prenuptial agreement that prevents a recalcitrant spouse from using the get as leverage in the divorce proceedings. The Halakhic Prenup is the single most effective way to prevent get-abuse today and in fact, the number of cases of get-refusal amongst couples who have signed it is negligible.
And yet, in Israel, the overwhelming majority of people are either unaware of the Halakhic Prenup or opposed to it, for a variety of reasons. That’s why Ohr Torah Stone has recently re-launched its nationwide print and digital media campaign, explaining what the agreement is and encouraging couples to learn more – and then sign.
“When a couple gets married, they expect the marriage to last forever, and signing a prenuptial agreement may seem very unromantic. It may feel like they are saying they don’t trust each other. ” acknowledges Pnina Omer, director of Yad La’isha: The Monica Dennis Goldberg Legal Aid Center, which has freed over 1000 agunot since its founding by Ohr Torah Stone 25 years ago. “But really, it’s the most important act of respect there is, assuring that if anything goes wrong, they will separate amicably and with the memory of the love, care and compassion that first brought them together.”
Nipping Recalcitrance in the Bud
In 2020, Yad La’isha partnered with Rabbinical Court Advocate Dr. Rachel Levmore to upgrade the “Agreement of Mutual Respect,” a halakhic prenuptial agreement which had been approved by Rabbi Zalman Nechemia Goldberg, z”l, former Chief Justice of the Israeli Rabbinical Court. For the past two years, Yad La’isha has been running educational seminars and lecturing on the topic in high schools, seminaries, yeshivas, pre-army programs and parlor meetings across Israel, familiarizing people with the prenup, addressing challenges, and encouraging people to sign.
In fact, since the campaign was relaunched at the end of May, it has reached over 120,000 people on Facebook and Google; over 1,700 visitors came to the prenup’s landing page, and nearly 200 individuals downloaded the agreement.
“It is evident our educational and advertising campaigns are having an impact,” Omer says. “Since launching the initiative, we’ve seen a huge increase in awareness, interest and people signing. Today, when we make presentations across Israel, people are much more familiar with the concept than they were a year or two ago. We get calls all the time and there is at least one couple that comes in to sign each week. Some couples actually come in to sign the agreement after they are married, to affirm their love for one another, or to make an important social statement,” Omer adds.
It should remain in a drawer
One such couple, Shachar and Matan Golan, decided to sign for both those reasons – as well as another, very personal one.
“My beloved mother had a dream that this year, on her and my father’s wedding anniversary, she would host an evening to raise awareness of the halakhic prenup,” Shachar related, moments after signing. “The plan was to invite family and friends, and at the end of the evening my father and mother would sign the agreement and invite whoever wanted to sign along with them.
“Sadly, four months ago my mother passed away, and so she didn’t get to realize that dream. Tonight is her and my father’s wedding anniversary, so Matan and I view the signing of this agreement as part of her final wishes.
“My parents were an inspirational model of a strong relationship filled with love and mutual respect,” Shachar said. “All of us should merit a relationship like theirs. Of course we trust that our agreement will remain in a drawer, and that we will never need to use it. However, we believe everyone should sign so that no one should have to suffer as agunot do today.”