An Orthodox father must serve time in prison after encouraging his son to refuse a divorce, a senior Israeli court has ruled.
The man, a member of the Haredi community, was sentenced to 30 days in prison earlier this year. He was also fined $23,600, half of which will get to son’s stranded wife.
Under Israeli law, Jewish men must grant their wife a traditional religious divorce document called a get. Until they do so, the couple remain legally married, no matter how estranged, and cannot marry anyone else. Civil marriage is not available in the Middle Eastern nation.
The High Rabbinical Court in Jerusalem has now confirmed the sentence following an appeal. The ruling is said to be one of the very first to punish a third party involved in a dispute between a husband refusing a get and an agunah (‘chained wife’).
Following an investigation by officials from the Regional Rabbinical Court of Tel Aviv, they concluded that the father had played a major role in persuading his son to refuse the get over a period of several years.
The couple in question lived in the United States. During a family visit to Israel a decade ago, the wife suffered a serious stroke. The husband then returned to the United States without her, leaving the couple’s children with her. Since then , reports say, he has continued to refuse a get.
The father has now appealed to the High Court of Israel, the highest judicial authority in the country.