Yad La’isha: The Monica Dennis Goldberg Legal Aid Center and Hotline

Esty celebrates her get outside the courthouseYad La’isha: The Monica Dennis Goldberg Legal Aid Center and Hotline is the largest, most comprehensive and most experienced advocacy organization for agunot in the world.

Each year, an estimated 2,400 women join the circle of agunot and mesuravot get. Many of these women do not have the financial or emotional wherewithal, legal representation, social clout or political influence to fight for their freedom.

Ohr Torah Stone established Yad La’isha in 1997 specifically to help them and indeed, any woman in need can turn to the Center for help, regardless of her age, background or religious orientation.

%D7%90%D7%95%D7%A8%D7%9C%D7%99 %D7%95%D7%99%D7%98%D7%9C %D7%97%D7%95%D7%A4%D7%A9%D7%99%D7%94While today there are other organizations which also assist agunot in various ways, Yad La’isha provides not only legal support in the rabbinical and civil courts, but also the services of in-house social workers and personal coaches who support clients emotionally and empower them to rebuild their lives.

Six advocates and four social workers staff branches in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Beersheba and Afula, enabling Yad La’isha to serve an average of 800 women annually (approximately 650 women receiving free legal counseling and 150 clients receiving representation at any given time).

On Yom HaAguna in 2018, Esty (right) shared her plight with passersby in a cage Yad La'isha set up in Jerusalem's main thoroughfareApproximately 60 women each year gain their freedom due to Yad La’isha’s representation – women like Esther, whose husband left her to live with another woman somewhere in Eastern Europe; like Dina, whose husband broke a whiskey bottle over her head and stabbed her with the broken remains; or like Miriam, whose schizophrenic husband was declared incompetent to give her a get. Women like Galit, who suffered an abusive marriage for 40 years until she could take it no longer, and women like Michal, who eloped with her husband at the age of 16, only to discover five years and one child later that he was a pedophile who had been molesting her 10-year-old sister. 

“For five years I lived in limbo,” says L.S. “I was terrified of returning to my violent husband, but the courts wouldn’t order him to grant me a get. Had I not been directed to Yad La’isha, I would still be living in fear and terror today.”

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