Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation

Review: The Wed-Locked Agunot

Chained women: a continuing scandal

    Susan Aranoff and Rivka Haut
    McFarland, £45.50

    This is a book best avoided on Shabbat because its contents would disturb anyone's rest. It is the most shocking book I can recall on Judaism in many years.

    Susan Aranoff and the late Rivka Haut were founders in the mid-80s of Agunah Inc, an American advocacy and support group for agunot - women trapped in a dead marriage because their husbands have denied them a get, a religious divorce.

    Critical of batei din, they emphasise the inequity of current Orthodox application of Jewish law whereby a man whose wife refuses to accept a get may be permitted by the rabbis to remarry, but the same is generally not true vice versa. Drawing on 30 years' experience of the American rabbinic system, they document the dilemma of women whose husbands, in return for a get, try to extort a less favourable financial settlement than was awarded their wives by civic courts.

    In one case, a woman who found her husband molesting their daughter was pressed by rabbis to drop criminal charges if she wanted her get.

    Agunah Inc's files contain "many stories of black and blue bruises, broken limbs, fathers sexually abusing sons and daughters, women terrified of husbands who assault or threaten to assault them".

    The authors expose the shortcomings of measures introduced by rabbis to try to prevent the incidence of agunot - such as various prenuptial agreements.

    One or two major rabbinic figures such as Rav Moshe Feinstein were prepare quietly to annul some marriages rather than leave a woman stranded. But sadly, the book also reports the storm of opposition met by the few Orthodox rabbis who bravely defied consensus and openly freed women via loopholes which they believe are available within halachah.

    "Judaism's moral fabric and reputation is damaged by this festering disgrace," it concludes. Who could disagree?

Education news

Charedi rabbis alarmed by creationism guidelines

Simon Rocker

Yesterday, 09:18

Charedi rabbis alarmed by creationism guidelines
Education news

PJ Library delivers 100,000th book in UK

Simon Rocker

Monday, February 12, 2018

PJ Library delivers 100,000th book in UK
Community News

Parents' surprise as Hertsmere Jewish Primary head quits for 'personal reasons'

Simon Rocker

Friday, February 9, 2018

Parents' surprise as Hertsmere Jewish Primary head quits for 'personal reasons'
UK News

More rabbis oppose JW3 LGBT events

Simon Rocker

Friday, February 16, 2018

More rabbis oppose JW3 LGBT events
Education news

Orthodox react to Spielman

Simon Rocker

Friday, February 9, 2018

Orthodox react to Spielman
Analysis

Secrecy leaves JLC with much to answer

Simon Rocker

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Secrecy leaves JLC with much to answer
Education news

Satmar school staff trained about sexual orientation

Simon Rocker

Monday, February 12, 2018

Satmar school staff trained about sexual orientation
UK News

Charity Commission writes to JLC over Newmark allegations

Simon Rocker

Friday, February 9, 2018

Charity Commission writes to JLC over Newmark allegations
News Features

A man of power and ambition

Simon Rocker

Thursday, February 8, 2018

A man of power and ambition