A new prenuptial agreement crafted by a prominent rabbinical organization in Israel may provide a loophole for women to obtain a Jewish divorce. According to Jewish law, a husband must approve a divorce. If he refuses to issue his wife a “get,” or divorce decree, she remains legally bound to the marriage. Known as an “aguna” (chained) in Hebrew, the woman then cannot remarry or have children considered legitimate under Jewish law.
“No one deserves to stay chained in a terrible marriage with a knife at their throat,” Rabbi David Stav, chairman of Tzohar, said in a statement. The 200-member rabbinical organization wrote the so-called “Halakhic pre-nup” and shared the document in a meeting Sunday. Halakha is Jewish religious law. Tzohar represents Orthodox Jews.
The prenuptial agreement would allow engaged couples to define the terms for divorce before they wed. This way, if they later decide to divorce, the process of issuing a “get” has already been decided and agreed upon. If the husband decides to drag out divorce proceedings, he could be subject to fines.
“He could be fined 6,000 NIS [$1,500] a month or half of his salary,” Yakov Gaon, vice president of Tzohar, told Arutz Sheva. The agreement, which was made in conjunction with the Israel Bar Association, meets both the rabbinical requirements and those of the Israeli religious court system – which issues birth, death and marriage certificates.
“This agreement can and should become the norm in Israeli society to ensure that the end of a marriage and separating from your partner will be treated with respect and dignity,” Stav said.
While the initiative has been met with silent support from Israel’s Orthodox rabbis, Aryeh Stern, the Ashkenazi chief rabbi of Jerusalem, has vocally supported the proposal.
“I wasn’t sure if I should take part in this initiative, but after checking and seeing what it is all about, I saw that it was the best way to prevent the situation of agunot,” Stern told the Jewish Press. “This is something very important for the Jewish family.”
Dorit Stern has remained in divorce limbo for six years. Her husband has refused to issue her a “get.”
“If this agreement was available to me a few years ago, my life’s story would likely have been very different,” Stern told the Jewish Press. “A person who is in this situation is stuck – can’t move on, can’t get married, can’t have children. The solution to this problem exists, and I’m so glad that someone finally is standing up and working to do something about it.”