Congressman urged to challenge aide on 'chained wife'

By Jennifer Lipman, February 28, 2012

More than 2,000 people have signed a petition calling for a senior aide to a US congressman to grant his wife a religious divorce.

Aharon Friedman, who works for Michigan Republican congressman Dave Camp, split up with his wife for good two years ago.

But, embroiled in battle for custody of their daughter, he has so far refused to match their civil divorce with a Jewish one, by withholding the "get" and leaving her a chained wife.

As it stands, Tamar Epstein cannot remarry, yet Mr Friedman has ignored the Manhattan beth din's "declaration of contempt" against him.

Because of Mr Friedman's public status, his former wife's plight has become the subject of a large social media campaign directed at the congressman.

Mr Camp's Facebook page has been flooded with messages from members of the Organisation for the Resolution of Agunot, prompting him to cancel the open setting of his account.

According to Politico, a Washington DC rabbi is to write to the House Ethics Committee claiming that Mr Friedman is in violation of the code requiring congressional employees to "behave at all times in a manner that shall reflect creditably on the House".

A petition, launched by supporters of Ms Epstein, calls on Mr Camp to "take action and stand up against this abuse".

"A member of your staff has been abusing his wife, Tamar Epstein, for nearly four years," the petition states. "Tamar is chained to a dead marriage, unable to move on with her life, due to Aharon's recalcitrance.

"It is a pity that, despite your wonderful record on so many issues of importance to the Jewish community, you will become known as the congressman who dismisses domestic abuse as 'gossip'."

Last updated: 12:14pm, February 28 2012