Rabbinical court approves public shaming to force get refuser’s hand
After Aryeh Leib Kishon refused to give his wife a get, despite both religious and secular sanctions and pressure, the court resorted to public shaming.
In a circumstance described as “heartbreaking,” the Ashkelon Rabbinical Court approved the release of the personal information of a 39-year-old who has repeatedly refused to issue his wife a get – a document that officiates a divorce according to Jewish law – as a method of shaming him into presenting the document as necessary.
Aryeh Leib Kishon has repeatedly refused his wife a get, although they have been separated since 2018.
As Halacha (Jewish law) requires the husband to voluntarily grant his wife a divorce, many women are rendered “agunot” – literally “chained women” – as they are “chained” to their marriages if they aren’t given a get. This is made worse by the fact that according to Jewish law, without a get an agunah is forbidden to pursue new relationships, which is considered adultery, while men are allowed to do so even while still married.
Kishon and his wife Golda married in 2005. In 2018 Golda requested a divorce from the rabbinical court, but Kishon has not issued the get, even as the court imposed economic, community and halachic restrictions upon him.
Kishon, as a result of the campaign to force him to issue the necessary get, was blocked from exiting the country, holding a driver’s license, and legally managing a business or bank account.
He has been religiously sanctioned as well; he is barred from being called up to the Torah, or even saying Kaddish, among other social sanctions.
Still, Kishon has refused to issue the get, leading to the Ashkelon Rabbinical Court’s decision to release his personal information, as well as the aforementioned scope of the sanctions.
“What started as a case where the wife was optimistic that it would be resolved easily, has since become extremely challenging,” Dina Reichik, the lawyer representing Golda, said. She is working on behalf of Yad La’isha Legal Aid Center for Agunot – operated by the Ohr Torah Stone network. “It is deeply unfortunate that despite all these efforts, the husband continues to cause his family to suffer. We very much hope that he will relent in the near future and give his wife the freedom she deserves.”
Pnina Omer, Director of Ohr Torah Stone’s Yad La’isha, said that the fact that the court was forced to resort to public shaming was “honestly heartbreaking.”
“I firmly believe that we need to find halachic solutions that will help avoid bringing shame onto these families and all the pain that comes with it, knowing that this is also the father of three innocent children,” she continued. “Our sincere hope is that this measure will force the husband to issue the get very soon so that the family can quickly return to lives of normalcy and Golda can again be a free woman.”
Rabbinic courts and halachic thinkers have attempted for years to find a halachic solution to agunot, but a method with universal approval has yet to be found.
Sanctions such as these have worked elsewhere. In December, a rabbinical court here asked a secular court in Western Europe to place economic sanctions on a man who refused to issue his wife a get, and two days later he presented the necessary documentation.
In a more severe case last October, a get refuser was caught at a coronavirus checkpoint and subsequently arrested. He agreed to issue his wife a get after one night in prison.
Aaron Reich contributed to this report.