Today, social media mobilized to free a chained woman — and it was incredible.
My friend tagged me in a Facebook post:
The Rabbinical Court
A lawyer is standing at this moment with a mesurevet get [a woman who has been refused a get – a religious divorce – by her husband]. The husband has agreed after 4 years to give her the get and the court says it won’t write it on Rosh Chodesh [the first of the new month]!
It was written by Rivkah Lubitch, a veteran rabbinic court advocate who sits on the board of the Center for Women’s Justice and is well-known for fighting for women’s rights and freedom.
Immediately, responses flooded in. People were tagging the lawyers, activists and members of Knesset that they knew: Seth Farber of Itim, who is used to fighting battles in court; MK Eliezer Ben Dahan, Deputy Minister of Religious Services; MK Aliza Lavie, longtime activist for women’s rights; journalists, media personalities, activists, lawyers and many more.
Others asked where and when to come and protest.
Dozens of people wanted to help, not knowing anything other than the Bet Din’s refusal to allow a man to finally grant his aguna a divorce.
The energy was incredible. The dedication to a stranger’s freedom was astonishing. The anger and frustration was palpable.
Having dealt with the Beit Din in Jerusalem for other mesuravot get, I immediately texted the people who have helped me before – people dedicated to making mesuravot get a thing of the past.
Aliza Lavie responded immediately asking for exact details. Rav Haviv who works with Rav Abargil of the Jerusalem Beit Din did the same.
So many people working through so many channels.
The media came to the court and interviewed Nitzan Caspi Shilony, the woman’s lawyer from the Center for Women’s Justice.
It would be difficult to describe the tension of that hour. It is also impossible to describe the beauty.
The activity on that post did not stop for one second.
People debated the Jewish law of the issue: It is true that Jewish sources say that religious bills of divorce are usually not written on the first day of the new month because of the difficulty in describing the date. But that is easily dealt with! The Aruch Hashulchan, Orach Chayim says, “When writing a Get on Rosh Chodesh, we write the date as…,” which clearly indicates that a get can be issued on this day. Moreover, halacha states that in cases where there is a risk of chaining a woman by tarrying in the Get process, it is inappropriate to be unnecessarily stringent about language!
Others just wanted to know where to show up and protest- they wanted to DO something.
Still others were trying to get details to share with the people we had managed to get in touch with.
Within an hour of the original post, we were told that Rav Abargil, the head of the rabbinical court, agreed to write the get and that it was going to be issued.
So many people posted that they were crying, that they were overjoyed, that they were amazed at the power of working together, yet they were furious that this is what it took to free a woman.
Rivkah wrote (translated):
…Thank you,everyone. This all happened because of the noise I made on social media. Bravo to all of you. You saved this woman. Because of the post, countless journalists called me to cover this story. They contacted a dayan (rabbinic court judge) that was prepared to help and he contacted another dayan as well as the management. There are no words. –183 likes and counting
MK Aliza Lavie texted asking what was going on and I told her that it seemed the get was being written. It would have been easy for her to move on, to let it drop, but she asked me to get her the details of the story and the file number. She refuses to allow things like this to happen and will continue to work to fix the system.
I called Nitzan and as they waited for the get to be written, she told me the story.
The woman in question had married at age 18 to a man who was 30 years old. They were married for 12 years. Four years ago, she asked for a divorce and for four years she was denied. Her husband had stopped showing up to court hearings.
Last Thursday, she came to the court (she flew in from France for the hearing) and she was surprised to see that he indeed was there. He agreed to give her the get if she signed away all claims to possessions and their five children.
After she signed the agreement, Rav Mazuz told them to come Sunday to have the get written. Upon arriving on Sunday, the woman and her lawyer were told that Rav Mazuz refused to write the get on Rosh Chodesh, but said that he would find a judge who would.
One by one, the dayanim refused.
So, here was a woman chained by her husband for four years who was now chained by the Beit Din.
Nitzan called Rivkah who posted her plea on Facebook and Twitter and the rest is history…
It is with the utmost pleasure that I can tell you that the get was given and received.
There are many problems with the way the system works and they all stem from one core issue; a woman’s right to divorce and freedom is not priority #1 to dayanim, lawyers, rabbis and community.
Adding to this is the incompetence and carelessness in the courts. The insanity of calling someone in to get a divorce and then refusing to perform it … I was once with another woman who had flown in from New York on a few days’ notice in hopes of getting the get she had waited years for when the dayanim looked at her and asked her why she was there. We produced a paper with their signatures telling her to come in. ‘Oh, well we did not know you were coming in from America.” How can presiding judges not know the basic facts of a case? And by what right do they tell her to come to the court if they are not ready for her??
What can we do?
Social pressure works. So many people made so many calls, sent so many texts, made so many shares. So many were willing to stop their day to stand by this woman’s side. It is directly because of publicity and pressure that this was solved. So many of us feel as though we were saved today with this victory. We all matter. Our voices. Our calls and emails.
Chochmat Nashim is a volunteer task force that is working to mobilize exactly as we did today. Everyone can play a part even if it is just a ‘like’.
Please join us, sign up here.
*For the sake of transparency, I post this here.
The Beit Din issued the following statement (translated):
The court administration regrets the shameful noise made against the Jerusalem court. While the parties were still on the premises, slander was publicized to sully the name of the court. The case was being taken care of by the court to arrange the get. At the end of the matter the court went above and beyond and arranged the divorce between the parties.
I have no comment.