Marriage is complicated. Divorce is more complicated. Divorce in Jewish law is, like most things in Jewish law, detailed and exact. Orthodox Jewish law dictates that a divorce is only valid when the husband gives his wife a "get" (divorce decree). Once that get is received by the wife, the divorce is official. But it must go down exactly like that. The wife can't give her husband the decree. It has to come from the husband. He can throw it in her yard and it counts. But it must be he who throws it. He must agree to split and then make it happen by handing her the decree.
So what happens if a wife unilaterally wants out of a marriage? What happens if she needs to leave an abusive relationship? What happens when a husband decides to be cruel and manipulative and refuses to let his wife divorce him? Well, this is a tragic consequence of an archaic jewish law.
Meet Adina Porat. She divorced her husband 8 years ago, Or rather, wanted to divorce her husband- David Porat (who also goes by another name, Eli Shur).
He left Adina and their children and started a new life in Dayton, Ohio. For the last eight years, he has refused to give Adina her divorce decree. For the last eight years, David Porat has made his wife a "chained woman" (Agunah).
By Jewish law, they are married. She cannot date or remarry because that would be adulterous. She continues to cover her hair since she is technically still married. Her life is on pause. Perpetual limbo. David Porat/Eli Shur has moved on with his life and is now (wait for it) a life coach in Ohio. This is not financial extortion. He is not demanding any money in exchange for the get (this has happened in other horrendous cases). This is purely emotional extortion. Religious manipulation. Cruel bullying.
So what is there to do for Adina and the many other "chained women" out there? To circumnavigate this problem, rabbis came up with a prenuptial document that would spell out that a husband must give his wife a get or else face financial penalties. If couples signed this prior to their wedding, it would work. This is becoming a commonplace custom now in orthodox weddings to try to prevent this tragedy.
But what about Adina Porat?
Here's what a group of outspoken and opinionated women, led by Devora Katz in Israel, have decided to do. Make David Porat/Eli Shur famous. We will use our platforms whether they be social media, newspapers, op-eds, blogs, screamimg from our rooftops- and let everyone know that David Porat/Eli Shur is a cruel bully who is holding his wife hostage. We will make sure nobody in Ohio will patronize his "life coach" business. I mean, you can't even make that up. We will talk about him at any opportuinity with the hope that he'll get sick of being the a**hole of the decade and do the right thing.
Until Orthodox Judaism can get rid of this misogynist, cruel, patriarchal law that is used to abuse women, the only thing this sisterhood can do is yell and scream and write. Rabbis, Leaders and Spiritual People Everywhere- I'm talking to you. This MUST END. This can't be authentic Judaism to hold on to a law that is this dangerous and destructive. I don't care if we have to wave a wand, say 100 Hail Marys and fast for a week. THIS MUST END.
Until then, this quorum of women will not be silent. Hell hath no fury......