web analytics
May 30, 2015 / 12 Sivan, 5775
At a Glance
Sections
Sponsored Post


The Fast of Esther: International Agunah Day


LBJ-033012

This year International Agunah Day was observed on March 7th, the Jewish calendar date of Taanit Esther, the Fast of Esther.

The date was determined by ICAR – The International Coalition for Agunah Rights. ICAR is a coalition of 27 organizations working together to abolish defiance in granting a “get” (Jewish divorce) and extortion in the divorce process within the framework of Jewish Law.

An agunah is a woman whose husband has disappeared or does not have the capacity to deliver a bill of divorce because of his physical or mental condition. Then there are cases when a husband, albeit capable, simply refuses to deliver a bill of divorce to his wife.

Where does the word agunah come from? It is based on the word ogen, which means “anchor” in Hebrew; an agunah is a woman “anchored” in a marriage which in reality no longer exists. As long as she is an agunah a woman cannot free herself from this sham marriage and find happiness in a second one.

The Fast of Esther was designated by ICAR as Agunah Day in order to symbolize identification with Queen Esther. Like Esther, who was forced into a marriage she did not choose and was captive in her situation against her will, the agunah of the present era is a captive in the marriage, being held against her will. Like Esther, many women who are refused a “get” are in fear of their spouses and live a double life. Like Esther, the agunah finds herself lacking control over her freedom just as if she was a Persian female slave.

ICAR was preceded by an organization, the Religious Women’s Forum, with similar objectives. The forum was founded in 1998 by fifty women affiliated with the National Religious movement – academicians, wives of rabbis, lawyers and educators – with the intention of changing the status of the religious woman in communities where, in contrast to her status in the marketplace, it seems as if she has been assigned an inferior position. The Forum, now called “Kolech” (Your Voice), has sought to encourage the advancement of women within the religiously observant Orthodox community. At present Kolech has branches in Modi’in, Ma’aleh Adumim, Tel Aviv, Ashdod, Ramat Gan, Rehovot, Petah Tikva, Raanana, Jerusalem, and in many communities in northern Israel.

The problem with the issue of agunot (plural of Agunah) is considered one of the greatest crises in the Orthodox world today.

Recently I came across an interesting historical item. The Karaite Jews, a sect of Jews who limit their observance to Torah sheBichtav, meaning they do not recognize the validity of the Oral Law, declare that a woman is entitled to a legal divorce no matter what. If a man refuses to give a formal divorce to his wife, the beit din (Jewish legal court) may exercise its legal power to grant her a divorce instead. While it has no meaning for us, it was an interesting look into history.

In a very short time we will sit down at the Pesach seder table and celebrate our freedom and salvation. Let us remember in our prayers our people the world over who are held captive in enemy hands, and include the agunah and her children in our midst, that they too be released from their marital prison to a life of personal liberty and a future of marital happiness.

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “The Fast of Esther: International Agunah Day”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz.
Ted Cruz Calls for Financial Boycott of Universities Backing BDS Israel
Latest Sections Stories
Respler-logo-NEW

When I complain, she tells me it is retail therapy.

West-Coast-logo

Tal Dimenstein has been selected to present her ELI Talk about Appreciation during this year’s conference in Chicago.

How is it possible that some of our people cannot see what I see, the miracle of the existence of the state of Israel?

Birobidzhan railway station sign is the world’s only one spelling the town’s name in Yiddish letters

She’s seen as a poster child for The Jewish Home’s efforts to reach beyond its Orthodox base.

Girls don’t usually learn Gemara. Everyone knows that.

Mordechai and his men shared a strong mutual loyalty.

“Can I wear tefillin in the bathroom?” That was the question US Private Nuchim Lebensohn wrote to Mike Tress, president of the Agudath Israel Youth Council, in a letter dated November 18, 1942. Lebensohn was not your typical young American GI. Polish by birth, he was forty-three years old and married when he was drafted […]

To what extent is your child displaying defiance?

This therapist kept focusing on how “I could do better,” never on how we could make the marriage work.

Mistrust that has lingered after the fiasco in Ferguson, Missouri, has edged the issue forward.

“The observance of a kosher diet is a key tenet of Judaism, and one which no state has the right to deny,” said Nathan Diament, executive director for public policy of the Orthodox Union.

More Articles from Prof. Livia Bitton-Jackson
Sarit Ben Yehuda Georgi

This belief was coupled with the spirit of “Am Yisrael HaShalem” (One United People), in the Ben Yehuda household: to love and help all Jews without distinction.

Lia van Leer

It was Lia van Leer who changed the image of filmmaking in Israel so that it is now seen as an expression of culture and not mere entertainment.

In 1756, when the ominous threat of Islamic terror against Jews reached Tunis as well, Friha became one of its tragic victims.

Brigitte was a nine-year-old girl when Islamic militants launched an assault on a Lebanese military base and destroyed her home.

This led to a shouting match between the judges and what could have been the end of the show.

In 1939, Chuchill challenged the common notion that Jewish immigration to Palestine uprooted Arabs

Her cherished plan to take the Hebrew theater group Habimah to Eretz Yisrael was not greeted with enthusiasm by the actors.

“Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples shall divide within you.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/jewess-press/impact-women-history/the-fast-of-esther-international-agunah-day/2012/03/29/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: