Sisterhood Blog

Historic Agunot Summit Pushes for Jewish Divorce Court

By Elana Sztokman

REBECCA SPENCE
Protest: Members of L.A.’s Orthodox community at a rally in 2009 for a woman they claim was not granted a Jewish divorce.

I cannot fathom the idea of working on a problem for 40 years. And yet, there is a whole group of Jewish women — and a handful of men — who have been doing just that. These are the agunah activists, some of whom have been fighting to find solutions for agunot — women trapped in unwanted marriages to recalcitrant husbands due to women’s lack of exit power from Jewish marriage – since the advent of the feminist movement in the 1970s. These activists, who demonstrate incredible perseverance and determination often with very little outcome, would be forgiven for giving up. But it’s possible that this week they may have reached a certain light at the end of the tunnel.

“I did not want to come today,” longtime agunah activist Rivka Haut told a packed crowd this week at an historic Agunah Summit organized by the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance and the Tikvah Center for Law and Jewish Civilization at NYU. The Agunah Summit, coordinated by JOFA founder Blu Greenberg, aimed to promote the use of systemic solutions within halakha in order to release agunot. Over 200 Jewish leaders filled the hall, eager to resolve this harrowing problem and the needless suffering of women, once and for all. “I wasn’t going to come, because I thought, more talking and not enough resolution,” Haut said. “But I’m leaving here optimistic. I think there is a chance now for real change.”

The change that Haut was referring to was the repeated calls for establishing a special rabbinical court to release agunot, one that would use halakhic tools such as “hafkaat kiddishin,” a form of annulment. Many speakers during the day supported the use of these halakhic tools, and several key rabbis — including Rabbi Asher Lopatin, Rabbi David Bigman and Rabbi Shlomo Riskin — advocated for establishing such a court immediately. Many rabbis in the audience said that they would be supportive of such a court, and some said they would be willing to study to become rabbinical court judges in order to be able to sit on the court.

Read more


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Jewish Orthodox Feminist, Jewish Divorce, JOFA, Chained Women, Agunot




Find us on Facebook!
  • British Jews are having their 'Open Hillel' moment. Do you think Israel advocacy on campus runs the risk of excluding some Jewish students?
  • "What I didn’t realize before my trip was that I would leave Uganda with a powerful mandate on my shoulders — almost as if I had personally left Egypt."
  • Is it better to have a young, fresh rabbi, or a rabbi who stays with the same congregation for a long time? What do you think?
  • Why does the leader of Israel's social protest movement now work in a beauty parlor instead of the Knesset?
  • What's it like to be Chagall's granddaughter?
  • Is pot kosher for Passover. The rabbis say no, especially for Ashkenazi Jews. And it doesn't matter if its the unofficial Pot Day of April 20.
  • A Ukrainian rabbi says he thinks the leaflets ordering Jews in restive Donetsk to 'register' were a hoax. But the disturbing story still won't die.
  • Some snacks to help you get through the second half of Passover.
  • You wouldn't think that a Soviet-Jewish immigrant would find much in common with Gabriel Garcia Marquez. But the famed novelist once helped one man find his first love. http://jd.fo/f3JiS
  • Can you relate?
  • The Forverts' "Bintel Brief" advice column ran for more than 65 years. Now it's getting a second life — as a cartoon.
  • Half of this Hillel's members believe Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:http://jd.fo/g3IyM
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.