After almost four decades: Aguna receives get from violent husband
Thirty-six years after being removed from the home for being severely violent, a recalcitrant husband has finally agreed to set his wife free. Rabbinical court advocate Limor Hajaj from Yad La’isha, who represented the victim of get-refusal: “It is unfortunate to think how many years of suffering and anguish she could have been spared”
Kobi Nahshoni | March 8, 2022
Thirty-six years after being removed from home for being severely violent, a husband has finally given his wife a get, setting her free. Thus, this harsh story of domestic abuse and get refusal that had lasted for almost four decades has come to an end – allowing the Jerusalem Rabbinical Court as well as local welfare department to heave a sigh of relief.
The couple married some 40 years ago and had three children. The husband became violent from the onset of the marriage, and was also a compulsive gambler who spent most of his family’s funds, including his wife’s disability pension, on covering his debts.
When the abuse escalated, and the husband’s violence injured one of his children to the point of hospitalization, his wife took out the first restraining order against him. That was 36 years ago, and since then, the order was regularly renewed by the court up until the early 2000s, when it became permanent.
But even during those years, the husband continued to terrorize his wife and family, breaking into their home despite the restraining orders and being violent toward them. He even took various items from their home, which he sold in order to cover his gambling debts, until another specific order was issued prohibiting him from doing so.
Over the years, the wife had repeatedly petitioned for a divorce in the Rabbinical Court, however her husband would not appear at the court on the scheduled dates and could not be located. Since the wife was not represented and received no legal counsel, the files were ultimately closed.
Then, about two months ago, she was referred by the welfare department to Ohr Torah Stone’s Yad La’isha: The Monica Dennis Goldberg Legal Aid Center and Hotline for Agunot. “When we first met, A was extremely suspicious and very skeptical about the possibility of obtaining a get, since for years she hadn’t been able to find anyone who knew how to help her get released from her marriage. She also felt that the Rabbinical Court had mistreated her, turned her away, and never attempted to help her in her distress”, says Rabbinical Court Advocate Limor Hajaj, who represented A on behalf of Yad La’isha. “We immediately filed a new divorce claim with the Rabbinical Court, along with a request for expedited proceedings in view of the husband’s violence and the indictments issued against him – and, indeed, within a short time, a date was set for the hearing, which was ultimately held even earlier”.
One of the husband’s daughters, who had kept in touch with him, convinced him to go along with the proceedings. He showed up to the scheduled hearing and finally agreed to give his wife the get she’d been waiting for.
“While we are, of course, delighted that A has been set free after having waited for 36 years, it is unfortunate to think how many years of suffering and anguish she could have been spared had she received professional accompaniment and been represented by experts on get-refusal at an earlier stage”, says attorney Hajaj. “It is tremendously important that awareness be raised among social workers, as well as other professionals who come across these women struggling to be unchained from their marriages”.