Postnup Parties Get Happily Married Orthodox Couples To Plan for Divorce

Preventing 'Chained Wives' — One Marriage at a Time

Grandpa’s Got a Postnup: Kenneth and Annabelle Chapel, the author’s grandparents, will celebrate their 60th anniversary this summer.
Hody Nemes
Grandpa’s Got a Postnup: Kenneth and Annabelle Chapel, the author’s grandparents, will celebrate their 60th anniversary this summer.

By Hody Nemes

Published February 09, 2014, issue of February 14, 2014.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

Bobby and Chelle Medow are happily married — and have been for almost 50 years. Yet one Sunday evening in January, the St. Louis couple made contingency plans for a divorce. And 31 other Orthodox married couples joined them.

They are part of a small but budding movement that is being promoted by some Orthodox rabbis around the country as a way to expand protection for Jewish women. But like its precursor, the prenuptial agreement, the postnuptial agreement now spreading within Orthodoxy’s liberal wings has yet to catch on more broadly as a way to prevent the phenomenon of agunot, or chained women, in the world of the traditionally observant.

Like a prenuptial agreement, postnups are designed to help solve the issue of men who refuse to grant their wives a religious divorce during or after a civil divorce settlement. Without such a written agreement from her husband, known as a get, a religiously observant woman may not remarry.

Under a system first proposed to address this inequity in the early 1990s by Modern Orthodoxy’s largest clerical association, prospective marriage partners can sign a prenuptial agreement that requires each partner to grant his or her spouse a get upon civil divorce or face steep fines enforceable in civil courts. But even as some Orthodox rabbis embraced the concept, requiring the couples they wed to sign these forms, the Rabbinical Council of America, which first proposed this idea, has itself never made using prenups a requirement for its member rabbis.

Among Orthodox rabbis who did embrace prenuptial contracts, another issue remained: Many Orthodox couples were wed long before the prenup appeared on the scene, or were married by a rabbi who did not require it. These women, though already married, were no less subject to peril in the event of a divorce.

“This isn’t something you just get grandfathered into,” said Rori Picker-Neiss, a fourth-year student at Yeshivat Maharat, a liberal Orthodox yeshiva for women. Picker-Neiss, who works for Bais Abraham Congregation, the venue for the St. Louis event, summed up the problem succinctly: “If we changed the policy and every Orthodox rabbi tomorrow started to only do weddings with a prenup, then we could maybe solve this problem in 50 to 60 years.”

As with prenuptial agreements, the postnuptial contracts require couples to appear before a predetermined beit din or rabbinic court for religious divorce arbitration when a civil divorce takes place. If the man subsequently refuses to grant his wife a get, the beit din will require him to pay his wife $150 per day until he relents — a fine enforceable in civil court.


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!
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • "It pains and shocks me to say this, but here goes: My father was right all along. He always told me, as I spouted liberal talking points at the Shabbos table and challenged his hawkish views on Israel and the Palestinians to his unending chagrin, that I would one day change my tune." Have you had a similar experience?
  • "'What’s this, mommy?' she asked, while pulling at the purple sleeve to unwrap this mysterious little gift mom keeps hidden in the inside pocket of her bag. Oh boy, how do I answer?"
  • "I fear that we are witnessing the end of politics in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I see no possibility for resolution right now. I look into the future and see only a void." What do you think?
  • Not a gazillionaire? Take the "poor door."
  • "We will do what we must to protect our people. We have that right. We are not less deserving of life and quiet than anyone else. No more apologies."
  • "Woody Allen should have quit while he was ahead." Ezra Glinter's review of "Magic in the Moonlight": http://jd.fo/f4Q1Q
  • Jon Stewart responds to his critics: “Look, obviously there are many strong opinions on this. But just merely mentioning Israel or questioning in any way the effectiveness or humanity of Israel’s policies is not the same thing as being pro-Hamas.”
  • "My bat mitzvah party took place in our living room. There were only a few Jewish kids there, and only one from my Sunday school class. She sat in the corner, wearing the right clothes, asking her mom when they could go." The latest in our Promised Lands series — what state should we visit next?
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • 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.