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.
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Among congregations that support this idea, postnup parties and signing ceremonies are increasingly popular as a means of encouraging already married couples to sign the agreement.

Organizers often frame the events as a way to celebrate happy marriages. “We thought it was great way to reaffirm our vows,” said Rabbi Ira Ebbin of Congregation Ohav Sholom in Merrick, N.Y., which held a postnup party this past July that drew over 50 couples. “We took an opportunity to pledge to our spouses that we’d never intentionally harm them in any way.”

The party featured a festive dinner and Jewish wedding dancing. “We made it look like you would have been arriving at a wedding,” said Edie Stein, who organized the event.

The Bais Abraham event, dubbed “Retying the Knot,” brought together St. Louis’s three Modern Orthodox synagogues. The celebratory affair featured a photo booth, a live band, and a cake emblazoned with the words “Mazel Tov!” to create a similar wedding-like atmosphere.

The wedding theme alleviates some of the awkwardness of signing divorce-related documents while still married — a necessary sweetener, given that many couples are initially reluctant to attend.

The Medows were no exception. “When I first mentioned it to Bobby, he was taken aback and he said, ‘I have to investigate this and see what I’m doing,’” Chelle Medow recounted. “But once he did that, it was clear [to him] that the entire Jewish community needs this.”

“When it’s a postnup party, you might think, ‘Is there any point after 28 years of marriage?’” said Carolyn Hochstadter Dicker of Lower Merion, Pa., who attended a postnup party at a friend’s home last fall. “It just seems a little bit odd and contrived, but we went.”

“We were all sitting there kind of happy, but feeling a little sheepish as well,” she said.

Ebbin and Stein, the Merrick, N.Y., congregational leaders, faced an uphill battle convincing many of Ohav Sholom’s congregants to participate. “When [the postnup event] was first mentioned, the men especially were all chuckling on their side of the shul,” Stein said. Many saw the signing as pointless or uncomfortable, since they had been in stable marriages for years.

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