Divorce expert awarded British Academy fellowship

By Jessica Elgot, July 31, 2009
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Michael Freeman

Michael Freeman

Professor Michael Freeman, a distinguished expert on the law surrounding Jewish divorce and the agunah (chained woman), has been awarded a fellowship of the British Academy.

Professor Freeman was the first foreign lawyer to act for a Jewish defendant in a Soviet Court.

He also spearheaded the Chief Rabbi’s committee on reforms of gittin and helped draft legislation on religious marriages.

But he later stated he had changed his mind when it came to the state interfering with Jewish law and said he believed it was up to the rabbis to find solutions to the problem of agunot

Professor Freeman said on his award: "I'm thrilled, it's certainly better than most gongs.

"It gives me a bit more credibility and it's just the icing on the cake really, after a very long career in academia."

A member of Wembley Synagogue, Professor Freeman was born in Golders Green and lived in the area for 21 years before moving to teach at Leeds University.

He is currently a professor at UCL where he specialises in family law and child rights and has written more than 60 books.

He has a wife and two grown-up children. His daughter is a freelance journalist and writes teenage novels and his son works in web marketing.

Last updated: 9:48am, August 5 2009