After five years, one call frees an agunah

A woman who has been trying to obtain a get — a religious divorce — from her estranged British-born husband was finally granted one this week after a five-year battle.

Orly Zigdon, 36, from Netanya, was declared an agunah (a chained wife) by the Israeli rabbinate. She had been seeking a get since 2003, after she separated from British-born Anthony Kurrant.

But for the past two years, his whereabouts have been unknown.

In November 2007, the JC reported that Mr Kurrant was believed to have fled Israel for the UK and was being sought by an emissary from the Netanya Bet Din. But last month, Mr Kurrant, 52, understood now to be living in England, suddenly phoned his wife and agreed to grant her a get.

“I was completely surprised when he called me last month,” said Ms Zigdon. “It was the first time I had spoken to him in two years. I explained that if you are not divorced in Israel, you don’t have any rights. I cried and I begged.”

Two weeks later, Mr Kurrant approached the Federation Beth Din — which, together with the London Beth Din, has been in touch with Mr Kurrant’s family over the past several months — stating he was ready to give his wife the get.

He went to the Federation offices a week ago to begin the procedure and Ms Zigdon received the get from the Netanya rabbinical courts on Monday. She said: “I feel free. I feel very, very good, knowing that this is all behind me. I am very happy and very excited. I just hope that no one else has to suffer what I have gone through.”

The couple married in 1999, and after living in the United States, they went to Israel. They have a seven-year-old, Liri, who suffers from the neurological disorder Rett syndrome.

Ms Zigdon said the pressure applied by the Federation on Mr Kurrant’s family had played a big part in helping him to change his mind and issue a get.

Mr Kurrant’s brother, David, who says he does not know where Anthony is living, said: “The family is happy that the situation is resolved and the get given. They need now to get on with their lives.”

Sharon Shenhav, a lawyer at the Israel Women’s Network, said: “Orly Zigdon has lost five childbearing years and that’s a tragedy. I think there is something wrong with a system that allows a man to hold a woman captive for five years when they are living apart and prevent her from having a new relationship and having more Jewish children.”

Last updated: 2:11pm, July 10 2008