“MiShenichnas Adar Marbim B’Simcha” — Our joy is increased when the Hebrew month of Adar arrives.
This Talmudic dictum rings especially true this year for R (pictured, on the right), an aguna of four years who was finally released from her chains last week, just in time for Rosh Chodesh Adar.
R, a British citizen, got married in 1988 to an Israeli who also held British citizenship. The couple had three children. Her husband was extremely abusive; in 2010, after an extremely violent episode, he was removed from the home and the couple separated.
R turned to the London Beth Din, seeking a religious divorce. But her husband refused steadfastly to appear at any hearings. In 2012 they reached a civil divorce agreement, but all efforts made by the Beth Din to bring him to grant R her get were rebuffed. In 2013 the Beth Din issued a chiyyuv get ruling, effectively compelling him according to Jewish law to divorce his wife.
Instead of granting the divorce, he picked up in December 2013 and flew to Israel, bringing with him the couple’s youngest daughter, then 17. R feared that she would never receive her divorce. She was advised to contact Yad L’isha: the Monica Dennis Goldberg Legal Aid Center and Hotline, whose advocates have a great deal of experience in dealing with recalcitrant get-refusers from the Diaspora.
Yad L’isha’s advocate, Devorah Brisk (on left) immediately sought a warrant preventing R’s husband from leaving the country. She also had him summoned for a hearing at the Tel Aviv rabbinical courts. After he ignored the summons, she had a warrant for his arrest (without bail) issued. But he managed to escape the police, who came to his sister’s home to arrest him, and continued to elude arrest for a month and a half.
In light of his disappearance, the court summoned all of his brothers and sisters to a hearing on 23 February, 2014, in the hopes of determining where he was hiding. The pressure on his family proved too much to bear. R’s husband himself appeared in the courthouse at that hearing – the very first hearing he had ever attended.
As soon as she heard he had turned himself in, R flew to Israel, so her husband would not have a chance to recant. And after four years of being chained, she finally received her get on Tuesday, February 25th – thanks to Yad L’isha.