Protesters demand Maryland man grant his wife a Jewish divorce
March 3, 2013 1 comment
Around 50 people gathered outside a United States House of Representatives office in Washington DC earlier this week to protest a government employee’s refusal to grant his wife a ‘get’, a traditional Jewish divorce.
According to a report from Jewish news agency JTA, political advisor Aharon Friedman, from Maryland, was legally divorced from ex-wife Tamar Epstein in civil court in 2010. However, Miss Epstein can’t remarry in a Jewish ceremony until Mr Friedman grants her a get. Without a Jewish divorce, Miss Epstein will remain, according to tradition, a ‘chained woman’, or ‘agunah’.
Protesters at the government building chanted and waved signs outside Mr Friedman’s workplace for over an hour. The group included three rabbis and around 20 members of the Maryland-based Melvin J Berman Hebrew Academy.
Miss Epstein’s mother was among the protesters. She said:
“[My daughter] is a remarkably strong young woman with very deep faith, and she has the capacity to go through with this without allowing it to affect her.”
Rabbi Jeremy Stern, executive director of the Jewish divorce group the Organization for the Resolution of Agunot, led the protests. He encouraged the group to chant slogans such as “Aharon Friedman give Tamar a get”, and “Aharon Friedman shame on you.”
Rabbi Friedman’s organisation also sponsored a billboard in a metro station near Mr Friedman’s home, reading “Aharon Friedman Give A Get Now”.
Mr Friedman said his wife moved with their five year old daughter to Philadelphia without warning. He also claimed that an initial custody arrangement required him to violate the Jewish Sabbath. The court has since amended this agreement.
Mr Friedman also alleged that he was attacked after returning his daughter to his wife’s custody in July 2012. This matter is currently under police investigation.
Photo of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC by Ishaan Dalal via Wikipedia under a Creative Commons licence