Jewish men refusing divorce will soon lose places to hide
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Jewish men refusing divorce will soon lose places to hide

A new Israeli-European database is set to list husbands who won't allow their wives to leave them

Illustrative: Demonstrators from the Agunot organization protest outside the Justice Ministry in Jerusalem in 2011. (Yossi Zamir/Flash90)
Illustrative: Demonstrators from the Agunot organization protest outside the Justice Ministry in Jerusalem in 2011. (Yossi Zamir/Flash90)

Orthodox Rabbis in Israel and Europe recently announced plans to create a shared database that will contain the identities of Jewish men who refuse to grant a religious divorce to their wives who seek one.

In Judaism, women who are not given a get, or Jewish divorce, by their husbands are called agunot or “chained women,” as they cannot remarry according to Orthodox Jewish law. Any children they have out of wedlock are forbidden to marry under religious Orthodox law. Religious judges do not have the authority to nullify marriages of reluctant husbands.

There already exists a database containing about 180 names of men refusing to give their wives divorces in Israel, including those without citizenship. Additionally, under Israeli law, the rabbinate can take measures against so-called get-refusers.

The problem of agunot, or chained women, is universal. (Photo credit: Serge Attal /Flash 90)
The problem of ‘agunot,’ or chained women, is international (illustrative photo: Serge Attal/Flash 90)

The new database is intended to prevent men from fleeing Israel and taking up residence in Europe, which Rabbi Eliyahu Maimon, director of the Israeli Rabbinical Courts Division for Agunot told the Haaretz daily is very common.

“By sharing information through this new database, we would hope to prevent the possibility of these men feeling welcome anywhere,” said Maimon.

The Israeli database will now be joined into the much larger pool of information provided by 30 rabbinical courts in Europe.

Maimon said the expansion into Europe was just the first step, as a plan to include the rabbinical courts in the US was in the works.

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