Photo Credit: Miriam Alster / Flash 90
Jerusalemites waiting to board a bus at a bus stop in the center of Jerusalem. (archive)

The Jerusalem Rabbinical Court has ordered the Egged Bus Cooperative to fire one of its employees due to his refusal to properly divorce his wife with a Get, a Jewish writ of divorce.

Attorney and Rabbinical Court Advocate Tehila Cohen of Yad La’isha: the Monica Dennis Goldberg Legal Aid Center and Hotline, is representing the wife in this case.

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Yad La’isha is an Ohr Torah Stone organization which assists Agunot; women who are “chained” to marriage because their husbands deny them a Jewish divorce.

The couple, whose names cannot be disclosed, immigrated to Israel from India several years ago with their only child. Even before they came to Israel, the husband had been violent towards his wife, and he continued his physical attacks on her – and their child – once they had immigrated as well, leading to police intervention on at least one occasion.

Ten months ago, the Rabbinical court ordered the husband to grant his wife a Get but he refused, declaring that he would only give her a Get if she waived her share of their joint property. As a result, the court imposed various sanctions upon him, but he continued to refuse to give a Get.

Cohen says she 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 qualifies as a public agency for this purpose.

Cohen’s request was granted last Thursday by a Jerusalem panel of rabbinical judges headed by Rabbi Uriel Lavi, which ordered the Egged bus cooperative to fire the husband within 30 days.

“Like everyone else, my client deserves to lead a peaceful and happy life. We will not rest until she receives her freedom and can embark upon a new and secure life together with her son,” Cohen said.

“We have witnessed the use of a variety of sanctions in the past, and each creative solution such as this gives great hope to other trapped women, that there are ways to release them from the prison of their marriage,” said Yad La’isha Director Pnina Omer.

Yad La’isha: the Monica Dennis Goldberg Legal Aid Center and Hotline – part of the Ohr Torah Stone network — is the world’s largest organization dedicated to freeing and assisting Agunot. According to Omer, Yad La’isha represents some 150 women each year in the Israeli rabbinical courts. 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.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.