As we enter the month of Nisan – the month of Passover freedom – numerous Orthodox Jewish women are relishing in this joy, as something historic has occurred over these last two weeks. While social media often gets a bad rap for trapping people in a world of their phones and causing divisiveness, it has lately been doing just the opposite in the Orthodox Jewish world. The recent trend of Get-refusers (recalcitrant men who will not issue their wives the formal Jewish divorce document) being not only outed and tracked on social media, but becoming the subjects of organized, peaceful (and socially-distant!) protests have led to an unprecedented number of gets being issued to agunahs (chained women) in the past two weeks. While the halachic prenup has been 100% successful in preventing recalcitrance when duly signed and executed in 25 years of use and even has backing by major Haredi rabbis like Rav Shlomo Miller, an inoculation only works for those who have taken it. (Modern Orthodox weddings are no longer conducted without one and no new agunah cases have come to the modern Orthodox world in seven years.)
Through the hard work of organizations like ORA and the issuing of seiruvim (a document noting that this person is denying Jewish law and therefore can’t be counted in a minyan, invited for a meal and more) by Batei Dinim across the country, several recalcitrant husbands (already ex-husbands in the eyes of the secular courts) have finally given their long-suffering wives the freedom they were seeking. This story has been picked up in Bklyner, JTA, Vos Iz Neias, and other news sources as social media watches have been set up in neighborhoods as far-flung as Los Angeles, Henderson, Boca Raton, Lakewood, Brooklyn and Monsey, leading to protests in a few of those cities. In some cases, it has led to the get being issued that day, in others, it has led to arrests. In all cases, the women who are some of the loneliest in the Orthodox Jewish community, have found the support of not just their local community, but of others around the world who are praying, spreading the word, protesting and even helping to hunt down their former husbands to make sure that they are not left in chains.
A first social media post by singer Dalia Oziel about the plight of Chava Sharabani and her ex Naftali’s actions led to the creation of the Instagram account @thegetbusters, which has shared stories beyond Chava’s. While Naftali Sharabani has yet to give a get, the cases of Jeff and Evet Hafif, Michelle and Jonathan Abtan were resolved. A woman named Elizabeth whose last name is withheld was also the recipient of a get this week due to this movement.
Aaron Silberberg has been asked to give his former wife Devorah a get, but protests this week did not change the situation as he denied that there was a seiruv. While some get-refusers, such Silberberg and Dovid Wasserman, who has kept his former wife Nechama in a dead marriage for years, fight back against such publicity, others say nothing but still withhold their permission to dissolve the marriage. Protests at the Bais Yaakov school where Wasserman’s mother, who houses him, is a renowned rebbetzin, have not yet been successful. Yechiel Friedman, David Ohayon, Dovid Nachmani and Moshe Stern are three more men against whom seiruvim have been issued to no avail.
Regardless, this new movement and the momentum behind women supporting women with their social posts, protest presence and more, as well as the support of rabbis, beis dins and the men who refuse to count these men in a minyan are all a part of the victories so far, and hopefully, the first of many to come.
For more information on other known get-refusers, please click here.