By Michele Chabin
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
For women, receiving a get is imperative since there is no civil divorce in Israel and children born to a married woman and her lover are highly stigmatized under Jewish law. The offspring of a married man with a woman not his wife are not similarly labeled.
In her ruling, Beinisch described the status of agunot as "one of the most difficult and complex social-legal problems in Israel today."
Beinisch said the rabbinical courts' practice of compensating some recalcitrant husbands is a sincere attempt "to provide concrete solutions in order to resolve certain cases."
Elana Maryles Sztokman, a writer, educator, researcher and activist, disagreed.
"This 'resolution' puts the courts, and religious law, to shame," Sztokman wrote in the Sisterhood blog of the Forward, a Jewish newspaper in New York.
Frances Raday, a professor of international law at the College of Management Academic Studies in the city of Rishon Lezion, likened the court decision to a Band-Aid on a cancerous sore.
"The idea of paying men to give a divorce is a sign of the inadequacy of the male-dominated rabbinical courts to find solutions to this problem," she said.
While Jewish law requires a husband must give a get of his own free will, Raday said, the vast majority of rabbis do not use the legal means at their disposal--which include taking a man's passport and ordering imprisonment--to procure a woman's freedom.
The rabbinical courts are "giving recalcitrant husbands a prize rather than a punishment," Raday said.
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Michele Chabin, an award-winning journalist, has been reporting from Israel for more than two decades.