There is good news to report on a case described by JewishPress.com about an agunah (“chained woman”) whose husband was refusing to grant her a Jewish divorce document (“Get”) some time ago.
The woman, a client of the Yad La’isha agunah assistance project of Ohr Torah Stone, announced Wednesday that the recalcitrant husband has been arrested – and subsequently agreed to grant his wife a Get – in what was one of the most high-profile cases of its kind.
Ilana and her husband, whose name cannot be disclosed, immigrated to Israel from India several years ago with their only child.
Ten months ago, the rabbinical court ordered the husband to grant his wife a Get but he refused, declaring that he would only grant her the religious divorce if she waived her share of their joint property. As a result, the court imposed various sanctions upon him, but he continued to refuse.
Attorney and rabbinical court Advocate Tehila Cohen works with the Yad La’isha: the Monica Dennis Goldberg Legal Aid Center and Hotline, an Ohr Torah Stone organization which assists agunot – women who are “chained” to marriage because their husbands deny them a Jewish divorce.
Cohen, who represented the wife in this case, realized that the only way to get the husband to grant his wife a proper Jewish divorce was for him to lose his job. She requested that the rabbinical court utilize a law that allows a man refusing to grant his wife a Get to be denied employment at any public agency. As Egged is subsidized by the state of Israel, she argued, it qualified as a public agency for this purpose.
Egged terminated the husband. After he failed to appear at the rabbinical court hearing in Jerusalem, a warrant was issued for his arrest.
On Monday, thanks to the surveillance efforts of Eyal Sbaro of Raz Investigations, a private investigation firm hired by Yad La’isha, he was located.
With the help of the Jerusalem Police Department, the husband was apprehended and placed in detention. On Wednesday he was brought before the rabbinical court and agreed to give his wife a Get.
“I can’t put my excitement in words. I’ve been emancipated, thanks to Yad La’isha, and today, I’m a free woman. Without this support, I don’t know if I would have ever been free. You saved me from the life I was living, and thanks to you, I’m leaving this place with the belief that God will be with me.
“I’d like to use this opportunity to say to all agunot, all women who have been refused a Get and are still waiting: contact this place, because it’s the best help you can get,” Ilana said.
“Ilana is an impressive woman. After all she has endured, she is now getting her life back. We wish her and her son Chaim productive and happy lives,” Cohen said.
“For twenty years, Yad La’isha has been the preeminent body representing, freeing and empowering agunot and women being denied a Get. We are thrilled with the outcome in this case and delighted by Ilana’s happiness,” added President and Rosh HaYeshiva of Ohr Torah Stone Rabbi Dr. Kenneth Brander. “We will continue to help other women like Ilana, while proactively seeking ways to prevent the agunah phenomenon.”
Yad La’isha: the Monica Dennis Goldberg Legal Aid Center and Hotline, part of the Ohr Torah Stone network, represents some 150 women in the Israeli rabbinical courts each year. The organization also provides private investigators where necessary, as well as staff social workers and personal coaches who empower the women while they await their freedom.