Skip To Content

Support the Forward

Funded by readers like you DonateSubscribe
Breaking News

Husbands Who Refuse To Give Wives Orthodox Divorce Face Jail in Israel

JERUSALEM — A Jewish man in Israel who refuses to grant his wife a religious divorce after being ordered to do so by a rabbinical court could face criminal charges and be jailed.

A new policy directive issued Monday by Israel’s State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan said that if a husband is convicted of violating the rabbinical court’s order to give his wife a get, or religious divorce, the state prosecutor will ask for a significant prison sentence, Haaretz reported.

A religious court cannot impose a get, and a man must give the religious divorce of his own free will. Nitzan said the state will adhere to those conditions by only threatening criminal charges after the rabbinical court has ordered the get and after consulting with the legal advisor to the rabbinical courts, Haaretz reported.

The men can still be jailed even if he subsequently agrees to grant the divorce, under the new directive.

A woman who is unable to obtain a get is known as an agunah, or chained woman. Under Jewish law she cannot remarry.

Men who refuse to grant their wives a religious divorce have been shunned socially and refused honors such as being called to the Torah in synagogues in an effort to pressure them to change their minds.

Though officially there are listed 131 women whose husbands have not granted them a religious divorce, groups that provide help for such women say they get thousands of requests for assistance each year, the Times of Israel reported.



Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.