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Congressman’s Aide Denies Giving Religious Divorce to Estranged Wife Tamar Epstein

A source close to Aharon Friedman, the estranged husband of Tamar Epstein, is denying a report that he has granted his wife a religious writ of divorce, or get.

This week, the Organization for the Resolution of Agunot, or ORA, issued a flyer and fundraising call announcing that “Tamar is Free,” leading to an erroneous JTA report that Epstein’s case was resolved with the awarding of a get. According to Orthodox law, a divorce is not complete until a husband gives his wife a get; women whose husbands refuse them gets are known as agunot, or “chained” wives.

Though the couple was divorced in civil court years ago, Friedman, an aide to Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.), chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives’ Ways and Means Committee, has been the subject of a years-long campaign by Epstein and her advocates to shame Friedman into giving Epstein a get.

On Friday, the source close to Friedman told JTA that he did not give Epstein a get and that ORA was lying or deliberately misleading the public. Friedman declined to speak on the record to JTA.

When contacted by JTA, Meira Zack, assistant director of ORA, pointedly refused to say whether or not Epstein had been given a get and did not explain why the organization considers Tamar “free.” Zack maintains that ORA was authorized by Epstein to make the announcement. Epstein could not be reached for comment.

“All I can say is that Tamar is now free and the case is resolved from our end,” Zack told JTA. “We are not in a position to share more information at this time at Tamar’s request. We have been very careful in saying simply that the case has been resolved. Any other suppositions that people have made have been their suppositions.”

Aside from the granting of a get, the only other means for freeing Epstein from her husband according to Orthodox law would be through an annulment of the marriage by a religious court — an extraordinary move that in Epstein’s case likely would be subject to dispute.

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