If you’re even a little bit active on social media, you’ve probably noticed a video going around in which Adina Porat talks about how her husband abandoned her and their children eight years ago and has refused to give her a divorce ever since. ORA, the Organization for the Resolution of Agunot, produced the video with the aim of pressuring the recalcitrant husband to end this abuse and give his wife the get (Jewish divorce document, the only type of divorce recognized by Jewish law and by the State of Israel) she deserves — and should have gotten long ago. The organization has even created a website with all the relevant details, freeadina.com.
Adina Porat has had her life put on hold for eight years, unable to remarry. She has received no child support and sees no light at the end of the tunnel. Her estranged husband, Dovid Porat (now calling himself Eli Shur) has moved to Dayton, Ohio and says he isn’t giving a get, in order to exact revenge. The Porat children have been left behind, with no father figure in their lives, and no closure.
It is human instinct to stay out of things that seem like a personal matter, but unfortunately get refusal is not about a few women and a few men. In fact, get refusal is a phenomenon that Jewish society must fight as strongly as possible. Adina Porat is one woman, but she is also all women. Our society cannot tolerate a single woman being abused in this way. Jewish law at its core is protective of women in their marriages. The ketubah promises wives monetary compensation in the event that the husband dies or the couple gets divorced. It delineates the exact ways in which a husband is obligated to support his wife financially. Despite the massive changes in the way the world works, the spirit of the ketubah is still highly relevant — women should not be left out to dry when a divorce occurs.
Using halacha to chain a woman indefinitely in a marriage that is no longer satisfactory may be technically possible, but it is a perversion of the spirit of Judaism and a form of abuse which cannot be tolerated.
The case of Eli Shur is particularly disturbing because there seems to be no reason for this abuse. But even when a couple is fighting over custody, money and other issues, the get should not be a part of the discussion. A Jewish divorce is a right that everyone is entitled to, and it should be given without negotiation or argument. Bitterness is a mainstay of many divorces, and disagreements are practically inevitable, but those issues should be kept entirely separate from the giving of the get.
Halacha has given men great responsibility, in divorce as well as in marriage. It is incumbent upon them to take this responsibility seriously and not abuse this privilege. It is also our responsibility — each and every one of us — to make it clear that get refusal is not a valid choice under any circumstance. We must stand up and fight for women like Adina Porat. We must educate young people that the get is not a negotiation tool. We need to pressure get refusers’ tolerant family members, communities and friends.
What can you do right now to help? Spread the word about Adina’s predicament (using the hashtag #freeadina), share the video far and wide and tell your friends why get refusal is unacceptable.