‘Unchain Your Wife’: The Orthodox Women Shining A Light On ‘Get’ Refusal


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Aug 12, 2021

This article highlights an ongoing controversy within the Jewish community, regarding the religious requirements in obtaining a divorce.  In Monsey, a hamlet in upstate New York, which has an established Orthodox Jewish community, there appears to be a large billboard that states in big block letters, “Dovid Wasserman.  Give your wife a get!”  For those unfamiliar, a “get” is a document Orthodox Jewish men give their wives as they complete a divorce.  It in essence seals the divorce according to their religious laws.

However, it is the husband who decides, if and when the divorce is final, and can actually withhold the “get”, thereby preventing his ex-wife from moving on with her life or continuing to be part of the Jewish community.  If a woman does not receive a “get”, she is literally considered a “chained woman” because she remains chained to her former marriage and unable to move forward with her life within the community.  If she chooses to exercise her rights under a legal divorce, it will not be accepted by the religious community, since she did not obtain a “get”.  She in essence would be shunned.

A woman is truly limited on what she can do if a husband absolutely refuses to give a “get” and many times Rabbis of the community are impotent to help.  For the woman in this article and her children, this ordeal has been going on for more than 7 years and their interpretation is that the refusal to “give a get” is equivalent to abuse

This woman’s experience is not unique and in fact, for those in the LGBTQ community, it can be even more devastating.  For an LGBTQ person they may have to make a choice between their life, their children’s lives and being a part of their religious community and their family connections or total abandonment of their life and start a new life elsewhere.

This is a horrifying dilemma for Orthodox Jewish women wishing to divorce; but obviously it’s an issue that cannot be resolved from the outside but rather from within.  For those who cannot wait for resolution or evolution to happen, there are woman and children who are faced with dire choices to make.

Selected excerpt(s) and linked article courtesy of Caren Chesler,
Royalty-free photo courtesy of Unsplash

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