Wanted: Freedom for Agunot From Husbands Who Have Disappeared
Yad La’isha: The Monica Dennis Goldberg Legal Aid Center & Hotline represents 150 agunot (women whose husbands refuse to grant a get – a Jewish divorce) each year in the rabbinical courts. These women live in a state of limbo, unable to move on with their lives until their husbands finally agree to give a get. Women whose husbands have disappeared, like those in the cases below, suffer even greater uncertainty and despair. Help us help them!
Please be in touch if you have any information that can help these women finally gain their freedom.
Rachel Oshami has been an aguna for 15 years.
Rachel and Yitzhar married and had five children together. Rachel suffered tremendous abuse but remained with Yitzhar out of fear, until he began abusing their children as well. In 2006, she filed for divorce, but Yitzhar didn’t show up to the first hearing. He simply told his brother he was leaving (their mother’s house, where he was staying), and never returned.
Neither Rachel nor any of Yitzhar’s family members have seen or heard from him since.
Orly Vital has been an aguna for 13 years.
Orly and Ronen dated as teenagers and married a few years later. Together, they had four children, but the marriage soured and was plagued by a bitter financial dispute between their families.
When Orly filed for divorce, Ronen told her, “I will never give you a divorce.” Five years ago, he walked out of a rabbinical court hearing – and has never been heard from again.
Chaya Eisenbach has been an aguna for 6 years.
Chaya and Michael had five children together. She suffered tremendous abuse, saying that Michael “treated her like a slave.” But when she filed for divorce, Michael refused to give her a get, saying she would be an aguna forever.
Six years ago, he left Israel for New York and never returned. She hasn’t seen or heard from him since.
Dina Golan has been an aguna for 18 years.
Dina’s husband Erez had been abusing her for years when he suggested they move to the United States to start a new life. She hoped that in a new environment, the marriage would improve. But instead, far from Dina’s support network of family and friends, the abuse intensified. When she told Erez that she wanted a divorce, he suggested that she return to Israel. He drove Dina and their two daughters to the airport, said goodbye, and indicated he would soon follow them.
They haven’t heard from him in 16 years.
Susi Fried has been an aguna for 4 years
After 22 years of unbearable marriage, in 2016 Susi filed for divorce from her husband, Hermann. The rabbinical court ruled that Hermann must deliver a get and, when he refused, they issued a stay-of-exit order forbidding him from leaving Israel. After Hermann’s legal appeal was dismissed, Hermann fled the country in spite of the stay-of-exit order – a criminal act. The courts issued a cherem against him, stating that he must be ostracized until he grants Susi the divorce, but Hermann has resurfaced in Switzerland, the UAE and Florida, telling community members that the cherem is not valid outside of Israel and that he is negotiating the divorce – neither of which is true.
Marganit Skital has been an aguna for 12 years.
Marganit and Yitzhak had four children together. Twelve years ago, when their youngest was just two years old, he left Israel for the United States. Marganit and the children haven’t seen him since. Marganit has worked in a range of low paying jobs, struggling to support the family on her own throughout years spent trying to find and negotiate with her husband.