Kidnappers ‘forced man to issue a get’

By Leon Symons, August 5, 2010

Strictly orthodox rabbis are fighting claims that a woman's marriage is invalid because her husband was forced to issue a get under duress.

Friends of her ex-husband have started a campaign claiming he gave it after he had been kidnapped.

But the Union of Hebrew Congregations dismissed the claims and insisted he had been paid nearly £16,000 to give it.

"This man abandoned his family and now wants to get revenge and stir up trouble," said a UOHC source.

Neither the man or the woman can be identified but he is an American living in New York and she lives in London.

Details came to light when Moishe Teitelbaum, one of the man's friends, wrote to Rabbi Ephraim Padwa, the head of the UOHC, to say he would start a milchamah mitzvah - a form of holy war - if no action were taken to reverse events.

Mr Teitelbaum alleged that the man had been lured into a trap, when he was invited to a meeting with a man he thought could help with his divorce. When he arrived, he says he was grabbed by hooded men who handcuffed, blindfolded and manhandled him until he agreed to give the get - and later thrown from a moving car.

Another friend, Ben Friedman, claimed he had gone to the police "but his former wife has powerful friends and the police took no notice of him".

But they claim his wife's remarriage, carried out by Rabbi Ephraim Padwa in Stamford Hill, was invalid.

They have received support from Rabbi Avraham Gestetner, head of a Beth Din in Monsey, New York, who argued that there was a duty to find out, before she was allowed to remarry, if the get had been issued under duress.

The UOHC source said that Rabbi Padwa was satisfied that the get, which had been signed by rabbis in America, was kosher.

He said: "We had no reason to doubt the authenticity. There was certainly pressure put on him to sign. But the story about a kidnapping just isn't true."

Last updated: 11:18am, August 5 2010