A Jewish court in London has called on the local community to shun a man who refused to grant his wife a religious divorce.
The couple had been married for 15 years before a civil divorce in 2002. However, under Jewish law his ex-wife cannot remarry in a synagogue until the couple complete a religious divorce, called a get. This cannot be granted without the husband’s permission. Until then, the wife is referred to as an agunah – a Hebrew phrase which implies that she is still chained to her marriage.
Despite the civil divorce, the husband refused to grant his wife a get. In response, the court of the Chief Rabbi in London – the beth din – took out an advertisement in the Jewish Chronicle newspaper. This included the man’s name and photograph, and called on synagogues to turn him away.
It also encouraged people to “consider whether it is appropriate for them to have social or business contacts with him until the get is given”.
The wife told the newspaper that her situation “has gone on for too long” and that she simply wanted to move on with her life.
Speaking to the BBC, beth din caseworker Joanne Greenaway said the advert was “not a step that we take lightly” but felt that the religious court “had no option in this case”. She hoped the publicity this has generated would “serve as a deterrent for others” who wish to withhold a get from their former spouses.
In 2013, an American government employee who refused to grant his wife a get was met with 50 protestors at his office in Washington DC.