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The Personal IS Political

Republicans are all ready to assume their leadership roles as Congress convenes on Wednesday, but one Republican House staffer is probably less then thrilled with the amount of attention he is getting.

Aharon Friedman, a 34-year-old tax expert on the Republican side of the House Ways and Means Committee, is in the midst of an ugly divorce that has led to protests outside his suburban Washington home and to requests that his bosses in Congress call him to order.

The New York Times has the story and even a link to a YouTube video showing activists protesting outside the staffer’s residence.

The reason: Friedman is refusing to give his wife a get, the Jewish decree of divorce, thus making his wife an agunah, a woman who cannot remarry. The couple divorced by civil law last April, but unless the husband follows the ancient Jewish practice of giving his wife a get, they are not considered divorced according to Jewish law.

Rabbis and activists have urged Friedman to give his wife the get and one local religious leader even tried taking the issue to the Hill. Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld, of Washington’s Ohev Shalom Orthodox synagogue wrote to the Republican chief of staff on the Ways and Means committee warning him that protests could move from outside Friedman’s house to the vicinity of his workplace, meaning Capitol Hill. The chief of staff, according to the Times, was not moved by the threat and replied that it was not an issue for the committee.

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