Israeli academic ostracized for refusing divorce
February 23, 2016 8 comments
An Israeli academic has been formally ostracized by the Supreme Rabbinical Court after refusing to grant his wife a divorce.
The man in question is a doctor of physics and former lecturer at a university in Tel Aviv, the Jerusalem Post reports. He has reportedly denied repeated requests from his estranged wife for a ‘get’ (traditional Jewish divorce document) for nearly four years. Unlike some recalcitrant Jewish husbands, he has made no demands, simply saying that he hopes to eventually reconcile with his wife.
But the Supreme Rabbinical Court – the highest religious authority in the country – has now lost patience. The academic had been ordered to the attend the court and issue his wife with the bill of divorce on pain of a rare ‘public ostracism’ order. He did not show up.
The court therefore published the man’s name and address and ordered the surrounding community to turn their backs on him. Amongst other strictures, his neighbours and acquaintances may not do business with the man, talk to him, allow him to enter their homes, give him food or drink, or visit him if he falls ill. He is also not to be given a seat at the local synagogue.
The order will only be cancelled once the man “reverses his stubbornness, listens to the voices of his teachers, and gives a divorce to his wife and releases her from her chains.”
He attempted to appeal the order but his claim was rejected, the paper reports. The decision to ostracize the man rather than commit him to prison attracted some criticism.
Jewish divorce is strictly consensual: both parties must agree. Therefore women require the cooperation of their husbands to obtain a get, and men who wish to make life difficult for their estranged wives may refuse to issue this. Women whose husbands have refused to present them with a get are known as agunot (‘chained women’) in Hebrew. In such situations, when faced with women determined to divorce their difficult husbands, rabbinical courts can penalise the men until they agree.
Image by David Ortmann via Flickr
February 23, 2016