24/08/18 [Translated from Hebrew]
Recalcitrant grandfather fined for blocking daughter-in-law’s divorce
Tel Aviv Rabbinical Court justices rejected the petition of a man who is encouraging his son to refuse his wife a divorce to cancel the penalties that were imposed on him, setting a new standard for punishment. The wife’s advocates: “The Court has proven that the liberation of an aguna is an important cause.”
The Rabbinical Court in Tel Aviv issued against an American ultra-Orthodox businessman a fine of NIS 5,000 ($1,370) for every day his daughter-in-law remains an aguna (chained wife) and does not receive a get (religious writ of divorce) from her husband, the businessman’s son.
In addition, the court ordered the father-in-law to pay NIS 50,000 ($13,700) in court expenses; his attorneys were charged NIS 10,000 ($2,740) each.
The new development in this case comes after the father-in-law petitioned the court to cancel a 2016 stay-of-exit order preventing him from departing Israel. The restriction now remains in place until the businessman’s son grants his wife the divorce she has been awaiting for 13 years.
The couple lived in the US, where their two children were born. During a visit to Israel 15 years ago, the wife suffered a severe stroke which left her disabled, after which her husband abandoned her and their children. Since that time, he has ignored the Tel Aviv rabbinical court’s ruling compelling him to grant her a get, leaving her chained to a nonexistent marriage.
The son has worked in his father’s business since fleeing Israel, and his father is believed to be responsible for the decision not to give his wife a divorce last 13 years.
When the businessman visited Israel with his wife in late 2015, Yad La’isha: the Monica Dennis Goldberg Legal Aid Center attained a stay-of-exit order, to prevent him from returning to America. In March 2016, in an unprecedented step, the Tel Aviv Regional Court ruled to incarcerate the businessman for 30 days. After numerous appeals, the case was heard last year by the Supreme Court of Israel, which rejected the father-in-law’s petition to cancel the stay-of-exit order and prison sentence. Since then, the businessman and his wife have remained in Israel as continued hearings are conducted in the case.
In the most recent hearing, the businessman – dubbed the “Chaining Grandfather” – attempted once again to prove that he is not responsible for his daughter-in-law’s aguna status and that his son made his own decisions. However, the court remained convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that the father-in-law was the one who made the decision not to grant her a get.
Rabbinical Court Advocate Osnat Sharon of Yad La’isha, who continues to represent the daughter-in-law, stated: “The rabbinical court, headed by Rabbi Stasman, has once again proven that the release of an aguna is an exalted goal, and that they can exert pressure in any possible legal way on anyone who causes a woman to be chained – including not only the husband himself, but all those who help him. The severity in which they view his actions is evident from the penalties imposed by the court not only of the father-in-law but on his attorneys as well. The Yad La’isha staff representing the daughter-in-law in this long and exhausting legal process hope that the ruling will serve to sway the father-ing-law from the belligerent path he has used to date and lead him toward a productive path which will enable the arrangement of the get.”
Yad La’isha: The Monica Dennis Goldberg Legal Aid Center, part of the Ohr Torah Stone network, added, “Also according to the Rabbinical Courts, this is one of the more difficult cases of aginut with which the system has had to contend. We believe that the Court’s ruling will herald true good tidings for the New Year, and bring our client a year of true freedom.”