jewish divorce israel

Israeli Woman Refuses to Accept Divorce and is Fined

The High Court of Justice approved sanctions placed on a woman who refused to accept a Get (Jewish divorce) from her husband.

According to Jewish law, in order to be considered divorced and permitted to remarry, a husband must willingly give his wife a divorce document called a Get. If he fails to do so, the woman may not remarry. A woman whose husband refuses to give her a Get is called an Agunah (chained).

The Israeli rabbinical courts, which have jurisdiction over all marriage and divorce cases, have the power to impose financial sanctions and other punitive measures, including incarceration, against the uncooperative husband. In most cases monetary sanctions are enough to persuade him to give the Get. Unfortunately, not always.

There’s another requirement for the divorce to be “kosher”: the wife must willingly accept the Get from her husband. Since polygamy in Judaism was banned over 1000 years ago (at least for Ashkenazim. The Sephardic ban took effect with the establishment of the State of Israel), until the wife accepts the Get, the husband cannot remarry.

A 2008 case brought before the rabbinical court revolved around a wife who refused to accept the Get from her husband. The court imposed monetary sanctions against her in the amount of 2,000 shekels per week (to the state) to persuade her to reconsider. She didn’t. The husband then took her before the secular court, which upheld the decision of the rabbinical court and placed a judgement against her.

The woman refused to pay the sanctions and brought her case before the High Court, claiming that the Rabbinical Court had no authority to sanction her.

Yesterday, High Court justice Miriam Naor said she disagreed – confirming the Rabbinical Court decision and imposing the NIS 2,000 weekly fine on the woman.

Hopefully this will finally get her to accept the Get and allow her husband to remarry.