Independent Rabbinical Court Addressing Agunot To Be Launched Next Year

Image: Thinkstock

A new independent rabbinical court to address the issue of agunot, so-called “chained women” whose husbands refuse to give them a religious writ of divorce, will be launched next year.

The announcement of the court, or beit din, was made Sunday at the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance conference in New York.

Rabbi Simcha Krauss of Jerusalem will head the court, which will have no institutional affiliation and begin operating in New York.

Krauss, a leading Modern Orthodox rabbi and widely respected scholar, told JTA that the court will utilize little-used, obscure resources in Jewish religious law to free agunot, including the excommunication from communal prayer of their husbands and Sephardic laws that allow for greater initiative from women in divorce cases. Krauss said he will leave “no door unopened” in his quest to address the plight of agunot. Eventually, Krauss said, he wants to open an affiliate court in Israel. He also is working on attaining approval from the Israeli Chief Rabbinate, which is necessary if the court’s judgments are to be upheld under Israeli law.

“The goal of this project is to humanize the beit din,” Krauss told JTA. “You can’t solve these situations with sleight of hand. But hopefully we can use the right methodology, so that even these situations get solved.”

Krauss acknowledged that the biggest challenge facing any avowedly independent religious court is mainstream acceptance, particularly within the haredi Orthodox communities.

“Nobody wants agunot,” he said. “So hopefully, if [haredim] see that we are solving these cases, maybe they will come to us. Or maybe they will follow.”

Written by


Your Comments

The 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 Forward requires 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 and will be deleted. Egregious commenters will be banned from commenting. 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 Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.

Recommend this article

Independent Rabbinical Court Addressing Agunot To Be Launched Next Year

Thank you!

This article has been sent!