Pressuring Family Members of a Get Refuser
Regarding “Is it proper to pressure family members of a get refuser?” (June 18):
If family members are in any way providing aid and comfort to the get refuser, then yes, absolutely they should be pressured. Get refusal is abuse. Period. If you maintain relationships with an abuser, whether it is as much as financially supporting or employing them, or as little as continuing to treat them like a beloved family member, welcoming them into your home for holidays, etc., you are condoning and even abetting the abuse of another human being, and you absolutely deserve to be called out for it.
If the family maintains any sort of relationship with the m’agen, then they are fair game, as far as I’m concerned. Same for friends or business associates of the m’agen.
One must be careful against drawing too broad a stroke. No one should enable a get refuser. That being said, one still has to treat their children with nuance and very little judgment. Their father’s behavior is not their choice and can be quite humiliating.
West Hempstead, NY
If a family member is aiding and abetting the abuse, then yes, they should be pressured to stop. But just because they’re related? No.
Similarly, I find it highly problematic when people try to pressure the guy’s employer. Imagine a scenario where a couple divorced and one of them went off the derech and now feeds their kids treif. If people tried to get him or her fired, social media would explode.
Fair Lawn, NJ
A get refuser is an abuser. That’s how you have to view it. If the family is aiding in, say, a sexual abuse case, I don’t think anyone would say that the family should just be “left alone.” Same thing here. If the family is involved in helping the abuser, they are fair game.
As for an employer, I think we follow similar protocols. Should an employer know if there is a wife beater, for example, in their ranks? Yes. Again, same thing with get refusal.
Some effort should be made to ascertain whether the family of a get refuser is supportive, and then act accordingly. If the family is condemnatory, leave them be. If they are supportive of his actions or him, then protest.
I think it is just fine to use shame and disgrace of family members if that is what it takes to pressure a refuser to give a get. After all, the refusers are guilty of spouse abuse and human rights violations.
But it would be better if these situations never happened. I believe that any rabbi who does not refuse to perform a wedding without having both members of the couple sign a get prenup is guilty of abetting spouse abuse and should be shamed by his community and his semicha should be revoked.
There is now a New York State Assembly bill that would classify “get refusal” as a felony. The Jewish community should give strong support to the passage of this bill.
East Windsor, NJ
Loving Miriam Beigelman’s Articles
My wife Rena and I have been reading Miriam Beigelman’s articles in the Family Issues section of The Jewish Press for a while now, and, like Miriam, we also got married later in life. Reading Miriam’s thoughts and musings has always given us something to talk about, goals to work toward and an acceptance of honest reality.
Is our marriage perfect two and a half years in? No. But is it getting better and do we continue to grow together as a couple and as individuals daily? Yes!
Many of the quotes from the column are cut out and taped to our dresser to look at and re-read when we need chizuk and just to remember the path we are on together.
It takes so much courage to be so honest with your feelings, struggles and emotions and it really does make us feel like we are all in this puzzle of life together. Every couple needs to be willing to grow, change, accept, and realize that the challenges that occur along the way are not impediments to growth but really springboards to deeper and more meaningful connections.
HaRav A.Y. Kook, zt”l, says in Orot HaTeshuva that the magic of teshuva is that it brings a person closer to Hashem than he was pre avirah. Teshuva gives a person the time and ability to pause and reflect on their relationship with Hashem, and become closer to him. So too with couples; the more we experience together brings us closer and we learn more from our mistakes than successes.
We really appreciate Miriam’s writing and hope that she continues to write now that you she is entering shana bet and continues to give us all permission to feel normal in our imperfect selves, lives and marriages – and continues to motivate couples to communicate, grow and learn together. Most importantly, we have learned that a successful and happy marriage does not just happen; it only comes after hard work, resilience and dedication.
Rabbi S. Litwack
Kindness Can Go a Long Way
Alan Magill’s “Senior Forum” column (“Who Were Those Masked Men?” June 11) was a breath of fresh air amid all the controversy over coronavirus science, politics, medical opinions and conspiracy theories. Besides the need for true and accurate reporting, what we need on a human, interpersonal level is a bit of kindness and certainly ahavat Yisrael. Unlike the decent interactions described in his column, we’ve seen families and friendships torn apart by disagreements over masks and vaccinations, with people simply refusing to listen to someone else’s concerns or health issues.
As Mr. Magill says, kindness and sensitivity is at the essence of being a Jew.
Vaccine Science Vs. Politics
The Jewish Orthodox Women’s Medical Association (JOWMA) is serving an important function by providing medical information to members of the Jewish community (“Once Again, JOWMA Battles an Epidemic,” June 18). Without the intention of diminishing their caliber and utility, I was a bit disconcerted by reading the reference to “fear-mongering and conspiracy theory” concerning the Covid-19 vaccinations. While I am not espousing an anti-vax position, that phraseology is often used in the effort to criticize and silence the speech of conservatives.
Who is promoting fear-mongering and conspiracy theory may depend on whose ox is being gored. The CDC and Dr. Fauci provided contradictory and inaccurate information to the public (e.g., no mask, one mask, two masks, etc.), which served to increase fear and confusion for many.
At the same time, Fauci and other renowned medical experts used their status to close down discussion of whether the coronavirus developed from anything other than natural origin and whether it might have escaped from the Wuhan Institute of Virology (see the letter in The Lancet, Vol. 395, 2020). You don’t have to be a scientist to know that is not how science works, and that such heavy-handed effort to shut down discussion about the origins of the virus stemmed from politics rather than science.
Additionally, can any medical expert state with full conviction that there exists any one-size-fits-all drug that is safe and effective, potentially resulting in only mild and usually short-lived side effects in some people? Every ad for a new medication that is marketed only after FDA approval and which typically requires years of clinical trials reports potential adverse reactions, some of which can be fatal. Covid-19 vaccines have only emergency approval from the FDA, and the public is not being informed of potentially serious side effects. Clearly, there are no long-term studies of the Covid-19 vaccines.
As reported in The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health (May 1, 2021), there were 0.16 Covid-19 deaths per 100,000 children aged 5 to 14. The American Academy of Pediatrics (June 10, 2021) reported that 475 people ages 30 and under have been the subject of reports to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) of myocarditis or pericarditis, including 226 verified cases. To be sure, the CDC still recommends Covid-19 vaccinations in youth 12 years of age and older “given the risk of COVID-19 illness and related, possibly severe complications, such as long-term health problems, hospitalization, and even death.”
Considering that there are millions of parents of minor children who are faced with the decision of whether to have their children receive a Covid-19 vaccination, I can only hope that medical professionals, including those of JOWMA, are providing parents with all of the available information so that parents can make their own informed decision in weighing the risks of the virus and the potential risks and benefits of the vaccine.
Robert Semel, Psy.D.