Family Law Prof Blog

Editor: Margaret Ryznar
Indiana University
Robert H. McKinney School of Law

Saturday, January 5, 2019

A Jewish Feminist Divorce

From BrandeisNOW:

For most of Jewish history, one law has held supreme for divorce: only the man can declare a marriage over. While they’ve developed workarounds, both Conservative and Orthodox Judaism still accept this principle.

And even with the increased flexibility, there remain several hundred Hasidic and modern Orthodox women every year who become agunot, Hebrew for chained — as in a woman chained to her husband and stuck in a marriage from which he cannot or will not release her.

“The laws of Jewish marriage and divorce are not egalitarian,” said Lisa Fishbayn Joffe, director of the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute.

Joffe is an expert on women’s rights under Jewish family law. A lawyer and scholar, she is also a co-founder of the Boston Agunah Taskforce. (Agunah is the singular of agunot.)

The Taskforce is devoted to research, education and advocacy for fairness in the Jewish divorce process. "We believe that withholding a Jewish divorce is a form of domestic abuse," the organization states on its website.

Read more here.

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