“Cruel and evil behavior”: Get-abuser who kidnapped his children ordered to pay unprecedented amount to his wife
A harsh verdict was handed down against Yigal Sagi, as part of which he was required to pay millions to his wife, to whom he is refusing to grant a divorce. Advocate Devorah Brisk, who represents the wife: “The members of the husband’s community are backing his refusal and his cruelty”
Hanan Greenwood | May 21, 2023
Representing one of the largest injunctions by an Israeli rabbinical court, a get-refusing husband has been ordered to pay a divorce settlement in the amount of 3.6 million shekel. The court also demanded that the husband is required to pay alimony in the amount of 10,000 shekel a month.
The case involves a married couple who lived together until 2009 when the husband, Yigal Sagie, claiming financial difficulties, moved to the US and left his wife, D, and two children in Israel. Four years later, the husband requested that the two children, who he had not seen over that entire period, be sent to visit him for the summer. D agreed under the condition they return before the beginning of the school year.
At the end of the summer, the husband contacted his wife asking they stay for several more weeks for the High Holidays. Despite seriously concerned over the arrangement, she agreed, knowing she had little recourse at the time to demand their return. After the Sukkot holiday, D got the call that she had been fearing, where Sagi informed his wife he had no intention to return the children.
Two days later, D experienced a serious neurological episode, and would remain hospitalized in a coma for the next seven months, followed by several months of intense rehabilitation.
During this period, Sagie became entrenched in the Chabad community of Crown Heights, NY where he has lived with the children for the past ten years. He refused any contact with their mother – even telephone calls. By 2015, D had begun to recover and sought out legal support leading to a claim that Sagie had kidnapped the children. The court rejected that claim, arguing that more than six months had passed since the children left Israel, and the claim was being issued far after that initial period of time. Despite her explanations that her medical condition had precluded making the claim in time, the court continued to reject her request.
In 2016, D turned to the Yad La’isha Legal Aid Center of Ohr Torah Stone to take on her case and Adv. Dvora Brisk issued a divorce claim on her behalf in the Rabbinical Court. Any efforts at mediation to secure a get (halachic writ of divorce) proved unsuccessful, with Sagie making continued efforts to manipulate the situation while refusing to grant the get unless his demands were met.
In 2019, the High Rabbinical Court under Chief Rabbi David Lau issued a ruling demanding Sagie release the get and placed specific sanctions against him until he relented. The Court further ruled that Sagie should be exiled from within his community, including being banned from any prayer services or Torah study classes and entering into business dealings with him. In a relatively rare development, the Court even agreed to have his name and picture publicized. Despite the clear ruling, the Chabad community in New York refused to enact any of the ordered sanctions or to cooperate with the decisions of the Court, claiming they are opposed to any measures that distance Jews from Jewish establishments.
This past week, following the continued intervention of Yad La’isha, the Rabbinical Court in Petach Tikva issued a ruling in favor of D saying she was eligible to alimony payments in the amount of 10,000 shekel per month and a divorce settlement of 3.6 million shekel. The decision came after Sagie, and his mother, who has been cited as actively supporting his lifestyle and taking the children to the US, both refused the order to appear before the court.
In its decision, the Chief Rabbinical justice of the proceeding, Rabbi Miesels, sharply criticized the New York community stating, “They are taking the law into their own hands and are failing to respect the decisions of the Rabbinical Court… All the while they are blatantly disregarding clear halakhot in the Shulkhan Aruch and rabbinical court decisions as well as the ongoing pain of a Jewish woman who is no less of a Jew and has never done anything to harm anyone. This behavior is directly contrary to both halakhic practice and moral Jewish principles and indeed all universal modes of moral behavior. Such behavior should be repelled from our midst.”
Adv. Brisk added, “This case is just another reminder of the fact that get-refusers aren’t acting alone, but are surrounded by all sorts of different supporters, in this case his mother and their community in the US, who are not only failing to help this woman earn her freedom, but are actively supporting the cruel and merciless acts of get-refusal.”
[Translated from the Hebrew newsprint article]