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2014 Resolution: Using Violence to Compel a Recalcitrant Husband to Give a Get (Writ of Divorce)

For the past quarter century, the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA) and the Beth Din of America (BDA) have worked to resolve problems relating to agunot who are trapped in dead marriages by husbands who refuse to issue a get (Jewish divorce document). In this regard, the RCA’s and BDA’s Halachic Prenuptial Agreement has been extraordinarily successful: there are no known cases of prolonged get refusal where a couple has a properly executed an Halachic Prenuptial Agreement.

Additionally, the RCA this year followed up on its 2013 commitment to study Prenuptial usage among its own membership, and determining that 80% of RCA rabbis officiating at a wedding require or strongly advocate the signing of the Halachic Prenuptial Agreement. Given the diversity of its membership, the RCA is most pleased with this finding, and plans work to increase that percentage to the extent possible.

Concurrently, the RCA membership calls upon all members of the Jewish public to work along them, the RCA, and the BDA to ensure that every Jewish couple sign “as a routine matter” the Halachic Prenuptial Agreement prior to their wedding.

Finally, in light of recent illegal incidents of violent coercion of Jewish divorces in the United States, the RCA membership of the “condemns unreservedly” the use of violence to compel the giving of a get.

Formally adopted by a direct vote of the RCA membership, the full text of “2014 Resolution: Using Violence to Compel a Recalcitrant Husband to Give a Get (Writ of Divorce)” states:

WHEREAS the Rabbinical Council of America and Beth Din of America have for decades (see RCA resolutions from 199119931998199920012006July, 2013, and November, 2013) consistently spearheaded efforts to reduce the number of agunot and mesuravot get (women awaiting a get from absentee or recalcitrant husbands), most notably with their Halachic Prenuptial Agreement; and,

WHEREAS in compliance with a 2013 RCA resolution, an RCA 2014 survey determined that approximately 80% of RCA members require or strongly advocate the signing of the Halachic Prenuptial Agreement when officiating at a wedding; and,

WHEREAS there have been zero known cases of prolonged get refusal where a couple has properly executed an Halachic Prenuptial Agreement; and,

WHEREAS the Talmudic principle of dina de­malchuta dina mandates that all Jews comply, as a matter of Torah law, with all non­discriminatory laws of their lands of residence, including laws against assault and battery; and

WHEREAS rabbinical authorities in America have at their disposal a variety of lawful, non­violent, and non­physical tools for pressuring recalcitrant husbands to grant a get, for example, those specified in the 2001 RCA Resolution:
Sanctions to be Imposed on One Who Withholds Issuance or Receipt of a Get

Therefore, the Rabbinical Council of America

 

  • Condemns unreservedly the use of physical coercion as a means of compelling the giving of a get; and,

 

  • Urges all members of the Jewish community to complement the efforts of the RCA and the vast majority of its rabbis to eliminate future instances of igun by encouraging every marrying Jewish couple to properly execute, as a routine matter of their responsibility to the Jewish community, the Halachic Prenuptial Agreement prior to their wedding.

 

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