September 1, 2010
Woman in chains: Will anything change for Agunot
By Michael OrbachIssue of September 3, 2010/ 24 Elul 5770
The rally was for an imprisoned woman who was not behind bars.
Two dozen or so college-age protesters, young Orthodox men and women, stood in front of a off-white stucco house in Brooklyn.
The Aug. 18 rally was called by the Organization for the Resolution of Agunot, known by its initials as ORA, to protest the fate of a 27-year-old woman named Tamar. Despite being separated for two years and civilly divorced since April, Tamar’s husband, 34, an attorney on the staff of a high-profile Congressional committee who lives in Silver Spring, MD, is refusing to give her a get, a religious divorce. Without the get, Tamar is an Agunah, a "chained" woman, bound to her husband by Jewish law and unable to marry again.
The Brooklyn house belonged to her husband’s uncle, a rabbi who had advocated on the husband’s behalf in beis din and supported his refusal to give a get. The protesters chanted slogans against the uncle and handed out fliers bearing photographs of the husband’s cherubic face and his uncle’s, along with a letter from Rabbi Shmuel Kamenetzky, a Rosh Yeshiva in Philadelphia, that criticized the two men. The Jewish Star is withholding the name of the husband at this time to avoid possibly hindering the get process.
Tamar married her husband in 2006 when she was 22 and he was 29. The marriage was “rocky from the start,” she said, but the couple had a daughter together. In 2008, when their daughter was five months old, she moved back in with her parents in Philadelphia. After two months, Tamar felt that the marriage was over and began divorce proceedings. Her husband filed an emergency appeal to force her to move back to Silver Spring but was turned down by the court. The couple went to the Baltimore Beis Din to arbitrate their divorce. Midway through the mediation, against beis din protocol, her husband took the case to civil court, she said.