After 16 years of an abusive marriage, and two instances of her husband fleeing, a newly religious American immigrant to Israel has finally been granted a get – securing her freedom and ability to move on with her life.
The relationship began to founder almost immediately after when E (her name is withheld for privacy reasons) and D, a newly religious immigrant from Canada, decided to get married.
Almost from the first moments, the marriage was marked by violence, with the first attack taking place in the yichud room after the wedding ceremony itself.
E also discovered quite quickly that D was violating the one condition she had put on their getting married: that he remain drug-free.
As the years went on, the abuse intensified, but the haredi religious rabbis from whom the couple sought guidance all encouraged them to keep working to restore the relationship in the hope that ‘Shalom Bayit’ – peace in the home – could be achieved. As E was convinced over and over to remain in the relationship despite the ongoing abuse, six children were born.
But eventually, when E was subjected to another violent physical attack by D two and a half years ago, she decided she could no longer take any more abuse. She went to the police where a restraining order was imposed on her husband. After that incident, E gained the confidence to start the divorce proceedings via family court, while D simultaneously turned to the rabbinical court.
Over the course of an entire year, attempts were made to mediate between the couple, but D continued to renege on all agreements and refused to grant E a get. In desperation, E turned to Yad La’isha, the Ohr Torah Stone network’s legal aid center for women being denied a divorce.
Adv. Yifaa Blonder, who heads the organization’s southern office, quickly filed divorce papers at the rabbinical court in Be’er Sheva, along with a stay of exit order, forbidding D from leaving the country.
The Be’er Sheva court ordered D to grant the get and imposed sanctions upon him, but D continued to refuse to free E and even stopped coming to the scheduled court hearings, stating that he no longer recognized the authority of the courts of the State of Israel and would only continue if the case is transferred to a private, haredi religious court.
He then disappeared without a trace.
Yad La’isha obtained orders for D’s arrest and last August, police were able to locate him and bring him to court, where he continued to refuse to give the get.
In order to prevent D from disappearing again, Adv. Blonder requested a warrant for his arrest, but the court refused and he was released without restrictions. As expected, D again fled and the case was transferred to the custody division of rabbinical court to locate him, with no success.
Nevertheless, though it seemed that all hope was lost, D unexpectedly appeared recently at the rabbinical court, saying that he just couldn’t live on the run anymore. He agreed to finally grant E her long-awaited divorce.
“The courts must fight with all means necessary against the reality of get-refusers who disappear off the face of the earth and leave their wives trapped in their marriage,” said Pnina Omer, Director of Yad La’isha. “Together we will continue in our struggle for the freedom of every woman trapped in her marriage against her will.”