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January 21, 2017 / 23 Tevet, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘divorce’

What I Wish You Knew About Divorce

Wednesday, June 29th, 2016

“Shalom, why are your parents divorced”? I overheard my son’s friend ask him during a playdate. And the questions continued: “What does divorce mean?” “Where is your father?”

At that point, I felt the need to intervene. A large part of me was left wondering why his parents didn’t explain what divorce was and why we had to be his introduction to the topic. It can be challenging to navigate the path of being a child of divorce in the religious community. What I wish every observant person knew about divorce:

  1. Our families and our children need compassion, acceptance, understanding, and warmth, not pity. Children should not be led to believe that there’s something wrong with their home or with them.
  1. Please extend invitations to us for Yomim Tovim and Shabbos. Many times we don’t have places to eat and don’t feel comfortable inviting ourselves out. Please reach out to us and ensure that we have a place to eat.
  1. Ideally, every shul should have a program that assists single parent families by making arrangements for specific children to sit with the children in shul, without the mothers/fathers have to scramble to find someone. It’s devastating for our children to sit alone in shul because of the mechitza. They feel out of place, unwelcome, and awkward.
  1. Please recognize that children need both parents in their lives and avoid alienating a child from his or her parent, particularly if that parent is no longer religiously observant. Parental alienation has infiltrated the frum community – from within the community and from the other parent. Provided that the parent in question has been deemed functional by professionals and the court, every effort should be made to include both parents in a child’s life.
  1. It is best when the community includes both parties in invitations to simchas, rather then taking sides and excluding one party. It’s painful to no longer be invited to brisim, bar mitzvahs, etc. When one ex-spouse complains about the other, it would be better for friends and acquaintances to remain neutral and empathetic, and not get involved with disagreements, or disclose what the other party has said.
  1. Please educate your children about divorce. We shouldn’t have to.
  1. It is crucial to develop an understanding of domestic violence and offer support to its victims and their families. I personally know divorced women who left violent marriages and were told by the community to go back to their husbands, who were supported by the community.
  1. Establish progressive methods for obtaining a get and have true consequences put in place for someone who refuses to give one.
  1. Divorce does not mean there is something wrong with either party; it means the marriage didn’t work out.
  1. As a divorced female, I have been at the receiving end of inappropriate and suggestive comments from married men. This is appalling and should never take place.
  1. Please recognize that men are fully capable of being caretakers of children. To suggest or assume that a divorced father is incapable of being a primary care-giver does everyone a disservice.

12.Dating post-divorce can be challenging. There are no dedicated matchmakers or dating websites/resources to assist divorced singles, although there really should be.

  1. We need more resources and organizations that are dedicated to helping us navigate through divorce – before, during, and after. Specifically, free or low cost legal aid, loans for education, daycare services for parents returning to work, employment assistance, funding and resources to leave an abusive situation, programs dedicated to children of divorce, community support, support groups, and mentoring programs.


(This article incorporated suggestions from members of the Divorced Frum Singles Facebook group).

Alanna Fine

Too Pious to Give a Get

Thursday, June 16th, 2016

The Get, Judaism’s divorce document, was a revolutionary concept when it was introduced. It is a legal instrument that protects the rights of the woman from simply being thrown out of the house by her husband.

A husband cannot divorce his wife without her consent, and as a married woman, the husband had financial obligations towards his wife which he must fulfill. In an ancient world that hardly recognized a woman’s rights, this concept was downright radical. It protected the woman socially and financially.

But like most anything good in this world, someone will come along to find a way to abuse and distort it. The most common abuse of the Get being extortion. Since the Get requires consent from both sides, the husband or the wife can use it to extort and/or abuse the other, and unfortunately both sides have been known to do that to each other, lavishly.

But since the prohibitions on extra-marital relationships are far stricter on the woman, generally speaking, the woman often ends up as the weaker party in the fight. Typically you’ll hear more cases of men refusing to give a Get than of women refusing to accept it. I do know of a number of cases where the woman refused to accept the Get until she got the inequitable child custody terms she demanded.

Update: A reader pointed out a 2007 study which shows that in Israel, from the unresolved divorce cases, there were actually more women (20%) than men (19%) who refused to grant the divorce and use the Get for extortion purposes. That study didn’t show if among the closed cases, there were similar ratios of extortion.

Another important aspect of the Get is that it must be given and received through free will. There is a concept in Judaism, that a Jew always wants to do the right thing, so sometimes a little “convincing” (if you know what I mean) is all that’s needed to get him over the hump.

Habayit Hayehudi Chair MK Shuli Moalem-Refaeli submitted a bill that hopes to address the issue of Get denial among Orthodox men to help convince them to do the right thing.

Her law will strip religious men sent to jail for Get refusal of the extra privileges they’re used to when it comes to the religious practices they follow. They will be able to get Kosher food in jail, but not Glatt-Kosher/Mehadrin food.

They won’t be able to sit and learn in the Torah wing of the prison.

Essentially her message is, your ongoing behavior of withholding the Get is not pious behavior, therefore you will not be entitled to privileges and services that a pious person requires, demands or expects.

(Unlike a criminal act that was already committed and is over, withholding a Get is an ongoing act).

But, from what I understand, a law that clearly only targets a specific sub-population is legally problematic.

So while Moalem-Rafaeli’s law may be a very good idea in practice (or theory), it may also not be a very legal one.

If it passes in the Knesset, we’ll see if it stands up in the Supreme Court.


How to Avoid the Most Common Mistakes When Getting a Divorce

Tuesday, June 14th, 2016

Divorce splits the family’s finances into two. Sometimes the two halves aren’t exactly equal.

Financial expert Peter Dunn discusses the most common money mistakes that arise during divorce:
• Is it worth fighting to keep the house?
• What should you do about your insurance policies?

  • What is the best way to get up to speed with financial issues if your soon-to-be-ex was in charge of the family’s finances?

Divorce is not the only emotionally fraught life change where there is a great potential to make financial mistakes.
Receiving an inheritance also requires difficult financial decisions.

Many people don’t know what to do with their sudden windfall and they either end up spending it too fast or losing it on bad investments.

In this financial podcast, find out the critical five steps you need to take to handle an inheritance and make the most of your newly acquired wealth.

The Goldstein On Gelt Show is a financial podcast. Click on the player below to listen. For show notes and contact details of the guest, go to www.GoldsteinOnGelt.com

Doug Goldstein, CFP®

Rabbinic Court Permits Wedding 2nd Wife over 1st Wife’s Dementia

Tuesday, December 1st, 2015

(JNi.media) An Israeli Jewish man, 80, filed an appeal with the Netanya Rabbinical Court, to be allowed to marry a second wife, citing the condition of his first wife as the reason, Psak Din reported. During the hearing, the husband described his first wife’s difficult situation, being under 24 hour care, tied to a wheelchair and requiring help with every personal need. Other than her husband–the plaintiff, the wife does not recognize anyone, not even their grandchildren. When people come to visit she starts screaming or responds inappropriately and is not able to control her bodily functions.

The husband submitted a medical opinion attesting to his wife’s physical, mental and intellectual condition. The document determines that the woman is suffering from various diseases, including multiple sclerosis and severe dementia. Her illness is visible in both her physical and mental conditions, she experiences severe memory lapses, “is not interested at all in her surroundings, barely speaks, does not watch TV, and is occasionally restless.”

The plaintiff also reported that “due to her physical and intellectual disabilities she is unable to manage her own affairs and care, and therefore needs a guardian for her person and property.” In response, the court appointed a guardian for the wife, to make sure her rights are observed.

“Death do us part,” said the husband and explained that it is vital to him not to hurt his first wife, to whom he has been married for 50 years. He takes care of all her needs and is committed to continue this in the future. “I pledge to protect her … I buy medication and bring food home and everything.”

However, despite the difficulties he is already facing, the husband said that at his old age he wants to live with a woman, “who can make him a cup of tea,” hence the request from the court.

The Dayan (rabbinic judge) Rabbi Shneur Pardes reviewed various halachic opinions on the issue and concluded that the husband should be permitted to take another wife. The main discussion was over the rabbinic concept of “a woman who lost her faculties irreparably” who may not be divorced according to Shulchan Aruch (Ev. A:10).

“This situation of women diagnosed with dementia who is unable to take care of her basic needs, has lost sphincter control and cannot be intimate with her husband, fits the definition of a wife who lost her faculties and her husband is given permission to marry an additional wife,” the Dayan ruled.

In this context, the Dayan noted that it is acceptable to rely on doctors’ opinion.

The Dayan noted that he chose to avoid issuing a get according to the Ashkenazi custom, which requires the approval of 100 rabbis, forcing the husband to pay triple alimony for the rest of the wife’s life. However, to guarantee the first wife’s rights—dwelling, sustenance, medial care—the Dayan decided that the first wife will continue to live in the couple’s apartment until she dies. To that end he placed a permanent lien on the couple’s apartment. He also required the husband to deposit a sum three times the amount in the Ketuba (the marriage agreement) with the court.

The presiding judge, Rabbi Michael Amos, and Dayan Rabbi Haim Victor Vidal joined the ruling, permitting the husband to marry again, subject to approval by one hundred rabbis and confirmation by the president of the Supreme Rabbinical Court, Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef.


Tzohar Launches New Prenuptial Agreement

Sunday, March 1st, 2015

With more than 200 in attendance from both the Legal and Rabbinic worlds, Tzohar and The Israel Bar Association launched the new Prenuptial Agreement to protect and assist the future of Jewish marriage.

The agreement, spearheaded by the Religious Zionist Rabbinic organization, gives the soon to be married couple an extra sense of security in the event of divorce, working to limit the distress and pain suffered by the refusal of giving or receiving a religious divorce, a Get. The agreement meets the requirements of Israeli law and policy according to the legal courts as well as Jewish law and halacha.

While other individuals and organizations have raised the issue, Tzohar is uniquely positioned to push it to widespread use and implementation. With a vast network of Rabbis all over Israel and as one of the main facilitators of marriages in Israel, Tzohar’s reach and influence can change the perspective of newlyweds and help save families from the potential pain and devastation of chained marriages.

“No one deserves to stay chained in a terrible marriage with a knife at their throat,” said Rabbi David Stav, Chairman of Tzohar. “This agreement can and should become the norm in Israeli society to ensure that the end of a marriage and separating from your partner be treated with respect and dignity.”

“If this agreement was available to me a few years ago, my life’s story would likely have been very different,” said Dorit Stern, who was refused a religious divorce for six years. “A person who is in this situation is stuck – can’t move on, can’t get married, can’t have children. The solution to this problem exists and I’m so glad that someone finally is standing up and working to do something about it.”

“It took us six years and 16 versions to finalize it,” said Rabbi Elisha Aviner. “We created an agreement where stage one is to try and save the marriage in the event that one of the parties wants to. Only after that process is explored is the decision to activate the terms of legally binding agreement decided upon. Our dream is that the agreement will never need to be used, but if it does, it should help provide for a fair process of separation. “

“I wasn’t sure if I should take part in this initiative, but after checking and seeing what it is all about, I saw that it was the best way to prevent the situation of agunot,” said Rabbi Aryeh Stern, chief Rabbi of Jerusalem. “This is something very important for the Jewish family.”

“With the launch of this new historic agreement, we hope to make the lives of newlyweds better and more meaningful, so that if, God forbid, the marriage breaks up, it will be done in a fair and respectful manner,” concluded Rabbi Rafi Feuerstein, one of the founders of Tzohar.

Jewish Press Staff

Leniencies In The Matter Of Agunot

Thursday, August 7th, 2014

Leading rabbis in every generation have tried to find solutions, even far-fetched ones, for the distress of agunot – women whose husbands desert them and refuse to give a get, thus preventing them from remarrying.

Rabbi Akiva Eiger helped release an agunah with the explanation that “The time is right to release a Jewish wife from being an agunah, and Jewish women should not be hefker (ownerless victims who are trapped and might be led to sin). Thus we are going to be lenient with an agunah.”

The Maharam of Rotenberg in his responsa goes so far to rescue an agunah by invoking the concept of mekach ta’ut (marriage under false pretenses); had the wife known that her husband was so cruel, she never would have married him. Therefore the act of Kiddushin (marriage) is annulled “l’mafria” (retroactively) using the concept of hefker beis din hefker (what beis din declares null and void is null and void).

These great rabbis were no less God-fearing than the dayanim of today. But they were not afraid to seek solutions for complex questions regarding agunot. Moreover, according to Kabbalah, releasing an agunah brings the Final Redemption closer.

Solving the problem of agunot in a manner consistent with halacha is one of the major rabbinic challenges of our time. Israeli law has authorized the rabbinical courts to imprison a husband who denies his wife a get. However, there are dayanim (rabbinic judges) who oppose such enforcement for fear of a get kafui – a divorce granted under coercion, which is not considered valid. Consequently, many cruel husbands exploit the situation and prolong the abuse of their wives.

This is a complicated issue. On the one hand, a get imposed on a husband against his will is invalid according to halacha. On the other hand, the Rambam rules concerning a husband who refuses to give his wife a get: “He is beaten until he says, ‘I agree.’ ” The Rambam says such a get is valid.

This seeming contradiction is explained by the existence or lack thereof of a decree of beis bin requiring the husband to divorce his wife. Most opinions agree that without such a prior rabbinical court decree, even mild persuasion might threaten the non-coerced requirement of the get.

When, however, a rabbinical court decree requiring the husband to divorce his wife is secured, persuasion, coercion, and even force are considered valid in bringing the husband to comply with the decree of the beis din and give a get of his own free will.

Today’s rabbanim are divided over the types of sanctions that according to halacha can be imposed on husbands who deny their wives a get. The unresolved nature of these differences of rabbinical opinion has led to many wives living as captives to unscrupulous husbands who hold them in chains and blackmail them.

Many rabbinical judges seem to ignore the directive of the great Maharsha in the Talmud Bavli Yevamot: “To free an agunah our rabbis invoked many far-reaching leniencies.”

The Maharsha concludes: “God must grant courage to rabbinical judges so that trapped and captive suffering wives will be blessed with peace and domestic tranquility.”

Rabbi Ephraim S. Sprecher

Murdered Children’s Bodies Return to Ohio

Tuesday, June 17th, 2014

The bodies of two children murdered by their father just hours after arriving in Israel have been returned to Ohio, where they were living with their mother. The children are to be laid to rest Wednesday morning in Columbus.

The two children had landed in Lod on June 11 for visitation with their father following the couple’s recent divorce. The father turned himself in to police after the murders.

Jewish Press News Briefs

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