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Orthodox Judaism Can Lead To Unorthodox Divorce Dilemmas

The process of going through a divorce can be difficult and complicated for many New Jersey couples; however, once the process is complete, the parties involved are usually able to go their separate ways and rebuild their lives. This is not always the case in for couples that belong to Orthodox Jewish communities.

Under Jewish law, a rabbinical court may grant a religious divorce, otherwise known as a “get.” Once the get is issued, the individuals are free to remarry. However, if one of the spouses refuses to consent to the religious divorce, even after it has been granted by the civil court, neither of the spouses may enter into a subsequent marriage that is recognized by their faith.

For practicing members of the Orthodox Jewish faith, the failure of one spouse to grant a get means that they may not remarry or have children with another partner, even though a marriage would be granted under state civil law.

You can see, then, how passionate conflict would result in these rare cases. A recent case highlights some of the drastic measures that some members of the Orthodox Jewish communities supposedly take to persuade wayward spouses into agreeing to a get and releasing their partners from the marriage.

A New Jersey rabbi and his wife were recently arrested by the FBI on charges of kidnapping. They allegedly lured a Jewish man who had fled from Israel to their home and threatened to bury him alive if he did not grant a religious divorce to his wife. They are also accused of calling the man’s family in Israel to threaten them that if they didn’t pay their son’s wife $100,000, they would shoot the son. The New Jersey couple will reportedly plead not guilty.

Even though members of religious communities may face additional complications when pursuing a divorce, it is important to remember that most cases are not this extreme and dramatic. Nevertheless, it is valuable to be aware of the variety of family law issues that exist within our country and beyond.


The Washington Post: “Orthodox Jewish societies use range of tactics to pressure wayward husbands to grant divorces,” Associated Press, 23 Jul. 2011

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