CELEBRATING THE PASSAGE FROM THE BONDAGE TO FREEDOM
Get Jewish Divorce Justice (GJDJ) gathered for its 5th annual Seudat Ho’daah (Meal of Thanksgiving) April 7, to acknowledge the 16 women and one man who have received their get (Jewish bill of divorce) or were freed by way of a rabbinic ruling , since last year’s Se’udah. The evening, began with the breaking of bread and mingling with some who are still ‘Agunot’ (literally ‘anchored’ to a dead marriage) , and those who have ‘passed over’ from captivity to freedom, together with family, friends and even an adult daughter.
Esther Macner, the founder of GJDJ, introduced the custom of reciting the Shehechyanu blessing and invited each freed person to recite the blessing over a new exotic fruit, before sharing their stories of struggle and redemption: “Blessed are you, Hashem, our God, who has kept us alive and sustained us, in order to bring us to this very moment and new phase of our lives”. One woman spoke in great detail of the halachic issues that arose in her eight-year journey of obtaining a rabbinic ruling that her second marriage was void, thereby freeing her despite her estranged husband’s refusal to provide the get, even to this day. She likened the experience of being marked an Agunah to the mystical blemish of leprosy.
For the first time a man whose former wife refused to receive the get sent a letter describing his shock and dismay at discovering that his local beit din would not even accept his application for a get, unless and until she chose to cooperate. Each speaker acknowledged the importance of Esther Macner’s work as a resource for legal, halachic, and emotional empowerment.
“I believe,” said Macner, “that a public testimonial in a safe place, of ‘passing over’ from a state of bondage to freedom, is of great benefit to those who have suffered. And it gives hope to those who are still suffering. ‘Hakarat Hatov,’ literally ‘recognizing the good,’ evokes compassion, brings clarity, affirms life, and renews the ability of those who have suffered to set their hearts free to soar, sing and enter a new phase of life.”
Since the formation of GJDJ (2012), Macner has counseled over 80 women and men who have gotten their get or been freed. She also spearheaded the revision of the Beit Din of America’s Jewish Prenuptial Agreement for California.
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Rabbi Simcha Krauss, the Av Beit Din of the International Beit Din was in Los Angeles (Dec 2017)
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OUR MISSION IS TO PREVENT ABUSE IN THE JEWISH DIVORCE PROCESS THROUGH EDUCATION, ADVOCACY AND COUNSELING.
Get Jewish Divorce Justice is the only West Coast-based organization that addresses abuse in the Jewish divorce process, especially as it pertains to California law and rabbinic courts. We work with rabbis, attorneys, and educators to intervene on behalf of current victims, and to educate prospective brides from becoming future victims through the use of preventive measures, such as Jewish pre-nuptial agreements.