At least three rabbis, 20 seniors from a Maryland-based Hebrew academy and dozens of other people recently gathered outside a Maryland man’s government office building to protest his refusal to grant his ex-wife a Jewish divorce, also known as a “get.” Although the couple was formally divorced in civil court in 2010, Jewish custom stipulates that the woman will remain “agunah” until her ex-husband agrees to grant her a get. Without a get, she is not allowed to remarry in a Jewish ceremony.
The protestors rallied outside the government employee’s office for approximately one hour, chanting and brandishing signs in an effort to convince the man to grant his ex-wife a get. The group was led by a director of the Organization for the Resolution of Agunot. In addition to several other rallies, the Organization for the Resolution of Agunot has also paid for the erection of a large billboard near the man’s home. The billboard displays a picture of the man’s face and urges him to “Give A Get Now.”
The man has thus far failed to respond to the group’s demand, though he claims to have been attacked after transferring custody of his daughter to his ex-wife in 2012. Police are currently investigating the incident, though it is unclear whether any members of the group are implicated in the purported assault.
The man has also accused his ex-wife of complicating their post-divorce parenting agreement, arguing that their initial child custody arrangement made it impossible to avoid violating the Sabbath. However, that arrangement has since been modified in court. He also asserts that his wife failed to inform him when she moved to another state with their daughter.
Divorces can be challenging when partners disagree on issues that will affect their lives going forward, whether the issues are regarding children, division of property, or even religious beliefs and customs. It is best to come to an agreement on all issues during the divorce proceedings, or even before the marriage occurs if possible.
Source: JTA, “Protesters urge Maryland man to grant his wife a Jewish divorce,” March 1, 2013