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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RCA Executive Director Mark Dratch said his organization strongly encourages the prenup’s use and is “working towards 100% compliance,” but obstacles remain. “There are some concerns that have been voiced by our rabbinic advisors with regard to making it absolutely required, so as a result it’s not a requirement of membership,” he said, but declined to elaborate on the advisors’ specific concerns.

The RCA has focused its efforts on promoting the prenup, not the postnup, though some RCA rabbis have organized postnup events for their congregations. “More and more rabbis are talking about doing it within their communities,” Goldin said. “It’s something that should be encouraged and that I assume we will encourage.”

Ultra-Orthodox groups by and large reject both prenups and postnups as impermissible innovations.

“I think there is lots of hesitancy out there,” said Hyim Shafner, rabbi of Bais Abraham and an IRF board member. “[It]seems like even in the centrist [Orthodox] world there’s a lot of wariness about doing these public signings.”

“People have said to us, ‘What is this crazy liberal thing that Bais Abe is up to now?’” Picker-Neiss said.

Despite their differing policies, the RCA and IRF’s focus on prenups is partly responsible for the recent spate of postnup parties, according to Rabbi Jeremy Stern, executive director of the Organization for the Resolution of Agunot. Stern also believes the increase is due to several high-profile agunah cases, including those of Gital Dodelson and Tamar Epstein.

Dodelson, who has waited three years for a get, entered the public eye when her story was featured on the front page of the New York Post in November. Epstein’s husband refused to grant a get at the time of their civil divorce in 2010. The Silver Spring, Md. couple’s standoff, which received wide attention, resolved in December.

“Those cases were major issues for the Orthodox world, the Modern Orthodox world, the Haredi world,” Stern said. “It’s not at all surprising that three shuls in the D.C. area are all having postnup events, because Silver Spring was rocked by this.”

Agunot also made headlines in October 2013, when the FBI arrested several men accused of abducting and violently forcing recalcitrant husbands to grant gets, using karate and cattle prods. Wives allegedly hired these hit men for tens of thousands of dollars.

Supporters hope that postnup events will help make the document more universally accepted and help permanently resolve the agunah issue.

“Until you actually experience it and see the pain, it’s all theoretical,” Shafner said. “But I’ve had women who have wait two, three, four years for a get. Sometimes they have to give in on things like custody or money — and that’s terrible.”

Contact Hody Nemes on Twitter @hodifly or at nemes@forward.com


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