Yisrael Meir Kin, an American ultra-Orthodox man whose mother’s funeral was delayed until he agreed to grant his wife a divorce, denied on Wednesday that he had given in to the Israeli Chief Rabbinate’s demands.
Israel’s Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau on Tuesday ordered the Jerusalem burial of the woman put on hold until her son agreed to grant his estranged wife a religious bill of divorce known as a get.
Hours later, Kin, who had withheld the divorce for more than a decade, was reported to have expressed his willingness to grant the get, and the funeral of his mother, whose body was flown in from the US to Israel for burial, proceeded.
Under Jewish law and in Israel, where personal status issues are overseen by rabbinical authorities, women may not remarry unless they are granted a religious divorce from their husband.
In a video shared by Channel 13, Kin claimed that Lau had “spread lies about me, forcing me to respond during shiva,” the traditional Jewish mourning period.
“The rabbinate publicized that because they delayed my mother’s burial I changed my mind and agreed to give a get immediately,” he continued. “You should know that this is fake news. Nobody from the rabbinate turned to me and nobody else agreed to this in my name.”
Accusing the court of corruption, Kin claimed that Lau was actually related to his wife and thus had a “special interest” in the case. A relative of Lau told Channel 13 that the chief rabbi had no familial connection to the woman.
He also asserted that, contrary to reports he had refused his wife a get, the religious document was “waiting for her for more than ten years” at a rabbinical court in Monsey, New York.
According to a 2014 New York Times report citing Kin’s wife and her supporters, Kin had demanded half a million dollars and full custody of the couple’s son in exchange for a divorce. He also indicated that he would only go through any divorce proceedings at the aforementioned Monsey rabbinical court, which many Orthodox communities, as well as the Israeli Chief Rabbinate, do not consider legitimate.
The decision to postpone the burial, which according to Jewish law must be performed as soon as possible, sparked some backlash on social media.
Put aside the get-refuser for a moment, Israel has ZERO legal authority to do this: 1) The BD has no authority to delay/prevent a burial 2) Both parties in the divorce are noncitizens, Israel has no jurisdiction 3) the dead mother is a 3rd party & not party to the case
— Rachel Stomel (@RStomel) August 20, 2019
In response to Kin’s denial, Chief Rabbi Lau’s office released a statement saying that it was sorry that the man, who had denied his wife a religious divorce “for more than 15 years” was “continuing his refusal despite the agreements reached.”
Lau “will continue his unwavering war on the phenomenon of get refusal” and “will do everything he can, including [imposing] the most severe sanctions, to end any case of get-refusal that may develop.”