Latest update: May 30th, 2012
Florida congregational leader Rabbi Efrem Goldberg is using new technologies to combat an old problem within Jewish community.
The plight of the agunah is most disturbing. The agunah is a “chained woman.” She is still married to her husband according to halacha even if a valid civil divorce has been completed. She cannot remarry, or even date. She is in a state of limbo, and it can go on indefinitely.
A Jewish divorce (as a Jewish marriage) is a bilateral agreement. The husband must issue a get (certificate of divorce) and the wife must accept it. Yes, there are wives who refuse to accept a get, but that occurrence is infrequent, and the remedies more readily available.
The Jewish community has not addressed this issue with the urgency it requires. The fact that some women are being held captive by a spouse is something many are willing to accept. There seems to be a conspiracy of silence. Most are not willing to make the waves and create the din that is necessary to stop this outrage.
The Jewish Press was the first major Jewish publication to tackle the agunah issue in a strong and forthright manner. The paper published hard-hitting articles on the subject and listed recalcitrant husbands, exposing the embarrassing problem that had been in the closet for so many years.
Still, one newspaper cannot, by itself, do it all. The problem was and is still entrenched and the lives affected are essentially ruined.
Rabbi Goldberg, of Boca Raton Synagogue, has become involved in the case of Yomin Postelnik, who refuses to issue a get to his wife, Leah, despite orders from a bet din. Rabbi Goldberg is giving Postelnik reason to reconsider.
There are many serious and valid considerations when using the Internet and social media. Some yeshivot and communities have banned its use. However, as in most endeavors, the potential for good outweighs the bad. It is all in the manner we choose to use this phenomenon.
The agunah’s predicament is an old story; the use of social media is new. Rabbi Goldberg is using the computer to reach out to the Jewish community in South Florida. He wants Postelnik to be shunned until he complies with rabbinic decree.
Postelnik needs to grant a get and Rabbi Goldberg has been e-mailing, tweeting, blogging and posting on Facebook to attain this goal. Rabbi Goldberg also plans, if necessary, to hold protests and rallies near Postelnik’s place of employment.
Rabbi Goldberg is a true role model for the concept “All Israel is responsible for one another.”
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