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Supporters rally for woman seeking Jewish divorce

A number of supporters have joined a rally for a woman who has been trying unsuccessfuly to be granted a Jewish divorce, also called a "get." While the couple was divorced in civil court in 2010, the woman's Jewish faith prevents her from remarrying without first receiving a get from her husband. The case has been seen in both rabbinical and civil courts in Maryland, but neither has the authority to compell the man to award his wife the get.

The couple married in 2006, having a daugther together before their divorce in 2008. After the split, the couple began a heated dispute over custody of the girl. Although a 2008 court order stipulated that the woman would maintain primary custody and the ex-husband would take the girl every other weekend, the woman allegedly moved without telling him, taking their daughter with her.

Many of the woman's supporters have accused her former husband of withholding a get as leverage to be used in the custody battle. Until the woman receives a get, she is considered to be in "agunot" status, which means that the woman and her family loses certain rights within the Jewish community. While Jewish authorities have pressured the man to give his wife a get, they have no means of forcing him to do so.

One rabbi, who works with the Organization for the Resolution of Agunot, explained that many Jewish husbands refuse to provide gets to their former wives. The rabbi equated the practice to domestic abuse, because it is about control. The rabbi and the rest of the woman's supporters hope that their continuing rallies and declarations of support will help her in getting the get and allowing both parties to move on.

In complicated religious matters such as this, it is best to consult with an experienced family law attorney, who may be able to help in negotiating a settlement that allows everyone to walk away with some of what they want.

Source: Jewish Exponent, "Local Support Grows for 'Chained' Woman," Bryan Schwartzman, Jan. 4, 2012

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