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Any suggestion to help resolve the plight of agunot, or “chained women,” whose husbands won’t grant them a religious divorce, must be taken seriously. So we read Shayna Zamkanei’s article with great interest.
Last year, the issue of agunoth or “chained women” — women who are unable to remarry — hit popular culture in the form of a movie, “Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem.” The Israeli film, nominated for a Golden Globe and selected as the country’s contender for the Oscar’s Best Foreign Language film category, follows the drawn-out legal battle of an Israeli woman trying to secure a get, or bill of divorce, from her recalcitrant husband. According to Jewish and Israeli law, only the husband can divorce the wife.
Recently, the High Rabbinic Court of Israel issued an excommunication order against one Oded Gez for refusing to divorce his wife. The Court called on the public to refrain from conducting business with Gez. It stated that no one should host him in their home, offer him food or drink, visit with him if he is sick. No one should give Gez a seat in synagogue, call him up to the Torah, allow him to say kaddish (the mourner’s prayer), or even ask him how he is. And to top all that, the Rabbinic Court specifically authorized posting its ruling, as well as Gez’s picture, on social media. Subsequently, the media has been awash with Gez. According to one report. Bar Ilan University expelled Gez from a position that he held in their institution for Higher Torah Learning in response to the rabbinic order.
In recent years, the power of social media has been harnessed to shame men who refuse to grant a “get,” or Jewish divorce, to their wives. YouTube, blogs, Facebook and an old-fashioned demonstration helped free Adina Porat last month. Porat, an Israeli woman who had been waiting for a divorce for eight years after her husband had moved on to serve as a ritual director in Dayton, Ohio.