“I always said that I would be released when Gilad Shalit was… but Gilad Shalit was freed long ago and I continued to long for the day I would be unchained from my husband and the prison of my marriage…”
Today, we finally wish a mazal tov to Naava (left), a client of the Monica Dennis Goldberg Yad L’isha Legal Aid Center, who received her gett after 10 years – thanks to the untiring efforts of her rabbinical court advocate, Devorah Brisk, at the Yad L’isha Tel Aviv office.
Naava and her husband, natives of Damascus, Syria, moved to Israel after their wedding. Her husband wanted to move to the USA, but Naava, who had dreamt of the Holy Land all her life, refused. Four children were born into an increasingly violent environment. Eventually, the physical violence grew so bad that she had a restraining order placed against him. But when the order expired he returned to their home – and the violence resumed.
Naava’s husband also incurred hundreds of thousands of shekels in debts to the bank, private individuals and the grey market. Violence against their 16-year-old son in 2006 landed him in prison; upon his release he did not return to the home but rather fulfilled his dream of moving to America, where he was embraced by his mother’s Jewish community in New York.
Naava’s husband left Naava all his debts and never sent a shekel of child support. When she sought divorce in the rabbinical courts he conditioned her gett on these and other factors.
In July 2013, a desperate and depressed Naava came to Yad L’isha. Devorah Brisk refused to even entertain the thought that they would give in to her husband’s extortion. In addition to opening a new file with the Israeli rabbinical court, which ruled that Naava’s absentee husband must give her a divorce, Devorah made contact with ORA – the US-based Organization for the Resolution of Agunot. Backed by his rabbi in the USA, Naava’s husband continued to refuse to divorce her, increasing his conditions for the gett (absorbing his debts, ignoring child support, giving him all of her savings, half her pension and half her apartment…)
Devorah won a ruling from the Tel Aviv rabbinical court to employ exclusionary Rabbenu Tam sanctions against Naava’s husband; again, backed by his rabbi, he refused. It was only when a representative of ORA went to deliver Tel Aviv Court-delineated sanctions to him in person, and sought to photograph him for the ORA website that Naava’s husband finally acquiesced to giving her the gett.
Words cannot describe the extent of Naava’s relief and happiness after a decade of uncertainty, fear and loneliness.