Ohr Torah Stone’s Yad La’isha Marks International Aguna Day by Exposing Recalcitrant Husbands
“The time has come to bring them to light”
Matan Wasserman, 9 March, 2003
As part of the “Bringing Them to Light” project which launched this week to mark ‘Yom HaAguna’ – International Aguna Day, traditionally held on the day of the Fast of Esther – the Ohr Torah Stone (OTS) organization shared the names and photos the rabbinical court has allowed them to publish of clients’ get-refusing husbands, while calling on the public to share their details far and wide in an effort to maximize his shame.
“We will no longer allow the get-refusers to run and hide while leaving behind a captive wife and heartbroken children,” says Pnina Omer, Director of OTS’s Yad La’isha: The Monica Dennis Goldberg Legal Aid Center. “The time has come to expose them, and not allow them to hide in the shadow of their refusal.”
In the case of Zev Lenchus who abandoned his wife ‘A’ and their six children shortly after immigrating to Israel a year and a half ago, his wife is desperate to free herself of the marriage even as her husband attempts to extort financial concessions from her in exchange for the get. Throughout this abuse, Lenchus has filed lawsuits for divorce, abduction of the children, and alimony while he has not paid any child support and has left her to raise their children alone.
“You never think it will happen to you. For me, it was a real test of faith” says A’, “I don’t have an answer for why the life of a woman needs to be put on hold in order to achieve her freedom. Why does a woman’s freedom have to depend on someone else, someone she doesn’t want to be with, someone who abuses her? Why do our rabbis, who are so bright and have found innovations that allow us to use elevators and lights on Shabbat, and halakhic solutions to all the other issues that life presents, why do they allow the systematic abuse of women to continue without end?” she added in pain.
The Yad La’isha Legal Aid Center is the world’s largest, most comprehensive and experienced advocacy center for agunot (chained women). The organization points out that A’s story is one of many cases of women who, even in modern Israel of 2023, find themselves forced to fight for the most basic of rights – the right to freedom.
While the whereabouts of Zev Lenchus are known, and the purpose of the court-approved shamings is to build pressure against them to grant the get, there are also cases where the court rules in favor of shaming in order to help locate a get-refusing husband whose whereabouts are unknown.
“When R filed for divorce in 2006 and at one of the court hearings, her husband told her that if she continued the divorce process, she would never see him again – and that is indeed what happened. He left the court and since then all traces of him have been lost,” says Attorney Tamar Oderberg, who represents R on behalf of Yad La’isha. “The husband is not in contact with his family, who have reported him missing to the police. Despite repeated appeals to the Israel Police, there is no clue as to his whereabouts,” states Oderberg, “We can only hope that the publication of his name and photo as part of this campaign will help locate him and bring this unfortunate situation to an end.”