International move on agunot


The Israeli Chief Rabbinate has announced a move to help the plight of agunot, women whose husbands are refusing to give them religious divorce documents.

In Israeli law, these men can be subjected to legal sanctions - but when they leave the country, Israeli rabbis are powerless.

In Brussels last week, Israeli and European rabbis announced that the Israeli database of get-refusing men will be made international, so that diaspora communities will know to give such men the cold shoulder. The database will also share names of European get-refusers.

Eliyahu Maimon, who heads the Israeli rabbinate's division for dealing with get refusers, was quoted by Haaretz saying: "This is only the first step. Eventually, we plan to include rabbinical courts from the United States as well."

But Seth Farber, head of a Jerusalem-based informal watchdog of rabbinate services, warned: "I'm not sure exactly what this is going to achieve. The Israeli rabbinate hasn't yet shown deftness in solving agunah problems in a way that will give it a high degree of credibility around the world."

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