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Rabinnic and Legal Groups Partner to Prevent Agunot

JERUSALEM (JTA) — A Religious Zionist rabbinic organization in Israel has launched a new prenuptial agreement to help ensure that divorcing wives will receive a religious divorce, or get.

Tzohar, along with the Israel Bar Association, introduced the agreement on Sunday that encourages a husband not to withhold a religious divorce, without which a woman cannot remarry. Wives who are not given the Jewish divorce writ are known as agunot, or chained women.

It is the first time that a major legal organization in Israel has partnered with a rabbinic organization on such an agreement, according to Rabbi David Stav, Tzohar’s chairman.

Under the Tzohar prenuptial agreement, the husband commits to paying a high sum of money daily to his spouse in the event of a separation. The word get, or religious divorce, is not mentioned in the document, he said.

In a statement, Tzohar said the agreement meets the requirements of Israeli law and policy according to state legal courts, as well as Jewish law, or halachah.

Tzohar, which said the agreement took six years and 16 versions to finalize, also said that it was “uniquely positioned” to push the agreement into widespread use, since it has members throughout the country and is one of the “main facilitators” of marriages in Israel.

“No one deserves to stay chained in a terrible marriage with a knife at their throat,” Stav said. “This agreement can and should become the norm in Israeli society to ensure that the end of a marriage and separating from your partner be treated with respect and dignity.”

Stav told JTA that there are several prenuptial agreements circulating in Israeli society that were written by individual rabbis. He said this is the first time that a major Israeli rabbinical organization has put its weight behind such an agreement.

As opposed to the United States, where a couple can be civilly divorced before they get a religious divorce, in Israel they are the same.

Agunah organizations say there are thousands of chained women in Israel, while the Chief Rabbinate claims fewer than 200 do not receive a get.

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