“No Judgment and No Judge”
by Pnina Omer
Jerusalem Post Op-Ed – 24/10/2016
Last week, news and social media sources reported on a ruling of the Haifa rabbinic court according to which a wife must pay her husband hundreds of thousands of shekels in order to receive her get, a Jewish bill of divorce. When the wife refused to pay the required amount, the court ruled that she was actively “chaining herself” – causing herself to become an aguna – by preventing herself from receiving the divorce that he was willing to provide. The court then proceeded to free the husband from the mandatory incarceration of recalcitrant husbands and send him home –leaving his despairing wife imprisoned within the marriage.
The ruling took social media by storm; men and women were shocked by the unimaginable reality that was presented by the court and found it difficult to believe that this is the manner in which the Jewish world in the 21st century conducts itself. But as an organization which provides legal representation and support for agunot on a daily basis, my colleagues and I are mainly surprised that everyone is so surprised.
Pnina Omer is the director of OTS’s Yad L’isha: the Monica Dennis Goldberg Legal Aid Center and Hotline.