December 7, 2007

Published December 07, 2007, issue of December 07, 2007.
  • Print
  • Share Share

Partner Organizations Own Center’s Archives

Regardless of whether a merger is desirable between New York University’s Skirball Department of Hebrew and Judaic Studies and the Center for Jewish History, as Lawrence Shiffman and Elisheva Carlebach debate in opposing November 30 opinion articles, facts regarding ownership of the center’s resources and of its mission need clarification (“Securing the Future of the Center for Jewish History: NYU Has Resources for Growth/Independence Is Invaluable”).

The collections, books and archives, so valued by both writers, in fact do not belong to the center. They belong to its constituent organizations, the five independent not-for-profit corporations that make up the Center for Jewish History, which was originally intended to be no more than a condominium-like arrangement to enhance each organization’s mission and resources.

Indeed, the vast majority of the books and archival materials belong to the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, the first organization to fund and establish the center in its originally proposed format — which was a facility intended to relieve the constituents of building operations and maintenance responsibilities in order to better focus on their core missions.

To the extent the center has come to be something other than originally intended, it has done so on the backs of its constituent organizations, featuring their resources and in some instances, competing with them for funds, programs and public recognition. The confusion has escalated to the point that the center’s financial difficulties are mistakenly attributed to its constituents.

Each organization offers unique attributes, resources and perspectives. NYU would be well served to not confuse the Center for Jewish History with its contents and constituents. Each autonomous non-profit corporation must be satisfied that a proposed combination with NYU is in its own best interests and in furtherance of its mission.

Rosina Abramson
Board Member
YIVO Institute for Jewish Research
New York, N.Y.


Apply Rabbinic Law To Free ‘Chained Women’

It has unfortunately been our experience that even mainstream Orthodox rabbinical courts pressure agunot, or “chained women,” to accede to their husband’s demands in exchange for a get, or religious divorce (“Rabbi Faces Protest Over ‘Chained Women,’” November 9). The prenuptial agreement which many Orthodox rabbis ask couples to sign does not annul marriages, as the Forward reports.

By signing the prenuptial agreement, the couple may agree to come before the Beth Din of America to adjudicate issues involved in a possible religious divorce. Furthermore, by signing the agreement, a recalcitrant husband agrees to pay $150 per day for every day he refuses to grant a get. It has also been our experience that even when such an agreement is signed, the rabbis pressure the wife to give into the husband’s demands and the financial penalty accrued by the husband is not paid to the wife.

Authoritative rabbinic precedents exist for dissolving Orthodox Jewish marriages when a husband absolutely refuses to grant a get. Sadly, in most relevant cases Orthodox rabbinical judges prefer to pressure the agunah to give into the husband’s blackmail in exchange for a get, rather than apply relevant rabbinic law to free them.

The appearance of several prominent Orthodox rabbis at the rally reported on by the Forward did not result in the freeing of “chained women.” If the same prominent rabbis would apply Halacha to free these women, then maybe the agunah problem could be solved.

Estelle Freilich
Director
Agunah International
New York, N.Y.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • "You wouldn’t send someone for a math test without teaching them math." Why is sex ed still so taboo among religious Jews?
  • Russia's playing the "Jew card"...again.
  • "Israel should deal with this discrimination against Americans on its own merits... not simply as a bargaining chip for easy entry to the U.S." Do you agree?
  • For Moroccan Jews, the end of Passover means Mimouna. Terbhou ou Tse'dou! (good luck) How do you celebrate?
  • Calling all Marx Brothers fans!
  • What's it like to run the Palestine International Marathon as a Jew?
  • Does Israel have a racism problem?
  • This 007 hates guns, drives a Prius, and oh yeah — goes to shul with Scarlett Johansson's dad.
  • Meet Alvin Wong. He's the happiest man in America — and an observant Jew. The key to happiness? "Humility."
  • "My first bra was a training bra, a sports bra that gave the illusion of a flat chest."
  • "If the people of Rwanda can heal their broken hearts and accept the Other as human, so can we."
  • Aribert Heim, the "Butcher of Mauthausen," died a free man. How did he escape justice?
  • This guy skipped out on seder at his mom's and won a $1 million in a poker tournament. Worth it?
  • Sigal Samuel's family amulet isn't just rumored to have magical powers. It's also a symbol of how Jewish and Indian rituals became intertwined over the centuries. http://jd.fo/a3BvD Only three days left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • British Jews are having their 'Open Hillel' moment. Do you think Israel advocacy on campus runs the risk of excluding some Jewish students?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.