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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“It was actually challenging and a little frustrating — people weren’t coming out [and] weren’t registering” for the signing, Ebbins said. “People feel weird about it — discussing divorce. A number of people have said to me, ‘This is not relevant to me because we’re not getting divorced.’”

Despite such inevitable qualms, the postnup party phenomenon has come into its own over the past two years, with events held in Washington, D.C., Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Rhode Island and throughout the New York metropolitan area. Several more parties will be held over the next two months.

The documents are also gaining traction among left-leaning Orthodox rabbinical groups. Last year, the International Rabbinic Fellowship voted to require member rabbis to sign postnups with their own wives if they had not already signed a prenup. And in 2012, the IRF passed a resolution obligating its rabbis to use prenups in all weddings at which they officiate, or face expulsion from the group.

The failure of the much larger Rabbinical Council of America — which helped draft the prenup in the early 1990s — to do the same has provoked disappointment among some in Orthodoxy’s liberal wing.

“It just makes me really, really sad that they have this document — it’s their document — and they haven’t stood behind it and said in unequivocal terms that every rabbi is required to” use it, Picker-Neiss said. “I just can’t fathom why they’re not getting behind it.”

Rabbi Shmuel Goldin, the RCA’s honorary president, said he believes the “vast majority” of RCA rabbis support the prenup, but the organization does not want to expel the document’s opponents. “It’s much easier for a group like the IRF, that is a much smaller and monolithic group to boast, ‘We require it,’” he said. “If the RCA was a much smaller group of people who thought in lockstep with each other, it would be easy for us to do that as well.”

Still, many opponents of the document believe that adding new legal conditions to a marriage ceremony is contrary to Jewish law, according to Goldin. Others are uncomfortable with introducing thoughts of divorce to a couple during a joyful wedding.

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