Mar 23, 2015
In This Story, the Agunah Was Me

Response op-ed: A Jewish woman shares her personal journey through a difficult marriage, calling it like "being locked up in a cell."

By Yehudis Smith

Although the latest op-ed on about Agunahs was so atrocious that it was actually... well, funny, I still can't shake this feeling of total disillusionment.

Today, I sat reading this sorry excuse for an op-ed by Aliza, and I felt my body respond in such a visceral way that I surprised myself. Even though I have moved on wholly and completely from my experience as a chained woman, my first instinct was to feel attacked, ridiculed, shamed.

I got married to my first husband almost 9 years ago to the day. The mistreatment started at my wedding and for the next 7 months my life was a living hell. I knew from the first day of my new life with him that my marriage was over, and yet I stayed until I couldn't take it any longer. I still remember how I felt when I called my mother to tell her I was leaving him, and the look in his eyes when I actually left. I thought that would be the hardest moment... but I was wrong.

The next 11 months shocked my system: from my friends who couldn't understand what went wrong... my rabbi telling me to go home and make a nice dinner and get pregnant instead... and then telling me that it was "normal and reasonable" for a man to delay in giving his wife a gett... to the bais din system failing me day in and day out. I know that I am lucky that my prison sentence only lasted about a year (and a few thousand dollars); many women are chained for quite a lot longer than that. But to all the naysayers out there, including the author of the latest article, let me explain to you how it feels to be chained to a marriage you want no part of:

Imagine being locked up in a cell, not knowing when you will be released, if ever. Living day in and day out with the fear that you'll never be able to move on with your life, never be able to find true love, have children, have the life you always thought you'd have, and only being 22 years old. Your husband isn't lost at sea and he's definitely not mentally ill (he knows exactly what he's doing). He walks by your cell daily, dangles the keys in front of you, and walks away; the up-and-down emotional roller coaster of, "maybe today is the day... or maybe I'll die this way."

This is how it feels to be an agunah... an "ungetted woman." And it doesn't matter if you're 22, 62, or 82... whether you're at the beginning of your life with no children, or fighting on your death bed with 6. NOBODY can tell such a woman that she has a choice, for that is the very thing that her husband has taken from her.

To all the agunos out there... all the ungetted, chained women... WE ARE HERE FOR YOU (notice the CAPS LOCK!) and we are most definitely not going anywhere. We will not be bullied and we will not allow you to feel isolated. It doesn't matter what they call you or how they judge you, always know that you have a community here who will support you, lift you up, and do all we can to help set you free.

+ Get Refusal is Domestic Abuse
+ Manipulators Aren't My Sisters
+ March Held to Support Agunahs
+ Marching Doesn't Heal Hearts

Most Read Most Comments

Opinions and Comments
So proud of you!!
Thank you yehudis for shining light on this important issue!!! Much love from boston!!
Chava Bolotin
(3/23/2015 9:10:54 PM)
Thank you!
(3/23/2015 9:11:17 PM)
Thank you
That's all. Just, thank you, Yehudis.
(3/23/2015 9:12:35 PM)
(3/23/2015 9:13:46 PM)
Chana Zelda Weiss
Powerfully written! Thank you for sharing your story, I hope it can help someone who is still going through this.
(3/23/2015 9:16:41 PM)
Wow! Great op-ed!
Any type of abuse in our Jewish community needs to be abolished. Period.
(3/23/2015 9:16:50 PM)
Good for you in writing this! This is the truth. No women can be chained. It's okay women don't worry so much about the get ...get over it find a's no big deal you don't need a man....NO THIS IS NOT TRUE!! HASHEM MADE A HALACHA OF A GET FOR A REASON NOT BECAUSE ITS NOT NEEDED OR A BIG DEAL!!!
(3/23/2015 9:17:04 PM)
Thank you for speaking truth!
(3/23/2015 9:17:24 PM)
amazing amazing
so well said. thank you.
the previous article was so shameful
(3/23/2015 9:17:33 PM)
Grateful for this! And for you!
Thank you for your courage.
(3/23/2015 9:19:28 PM)
Well done
You are so brave to post like this. Thank you for standing up for Agunos
(3/23/2015 9:19:52 PM)
My hero!
Yasher koiach Yehudis. May Hashem give you the strength to fight the good fight always
(3/23/2015 9:21:12 PM)
member of the Yehudis Fan Club
Yehudis, thank you for speaking up on behalf of ungetted women. I'm so glad that you've been freed from the tragedy of being chained. Thank you for being here to help those who are still living with the pain of being ungetted. We can't take compassion and generosity for granted, your heart is huge!!!
(3/23/2015 9:21:44 PM)
Thank you
Thank you COL for posting this and to Yehudis for being so brave. You should be blessed with only happiness!
(3/23/2015 9:22:35 PM)
Thank you! Finally someone addressing the real issues here.
Thank you for giving a voice to those who need to be heard. Best wishes on your journey.
- from a fellow Chabadnik who cares
PS I was shocked and dismayed at some of the vitriol and libelous comments published on Collive in regards to previous articles on this topic. They showed zero empathy or understanding of the issues that need addressing within the community. They insulted and disparaged people trying to help fellow Jews who are suffering. They made me feel ashamed to belong to a community who call themselves frum and followers of the Rebbe.
(3/23/2015 9:22:57 PM)
Kol Hakavod
Thank you for sharing. May you be bentched with bracha, hatzlacha, nachas, and mazal.
And may we hear good news from all agunahs very soon.
(3/23/2015 9:23:59 PM)
This is exactly wat I wanted to hear
the love, truth , kindness, and power from a are a thousand times more stronger than any haters words, this kind of beauty will bring back those we lost and hopefully create wonderful kids in the future
(3/23/2015 9:24:55 PM)
How brave
thank you for sharing your story with us.
(3/23/2015 9:25:27 PM)
Thank you!
The voice of reason! What a breath of fresh air!
(3/23/2015 9:26:45 PM)
Wow! Your story really touched me. Beautifully written. What a courageous thing to do to share it!!! Y'shar koyach!
(3/23/2015 9:27:13 PM)
you are amazing
you've gotten a lot of flack for taking the stance that you've taken. i don't agree with all of the things that you believe in but i respect you for having such great intentions and standing up for the greater good
(3/23/2015 9:27:13 PM)
Ilana Spencer
Thank you for speaking words of truth and wisdom in a sad sea of ignorance and damage. And thank you for being brave.
(3/23/2015 9:27:39 PM)
finally some sense has been spoken!
(3/23/2015 9:28:21 PM)
Thank you for publishing
These women like Yehudis are what we should be rallying for b'achdus!
(3/23/2015 9:30:03 PM)
Thank you for sharing your story. May every woman who is chained be free from her prison immediately!
Maggie Gertel
(3/23/2015 9:30:54 PM)
Your story moved me to tears!!!
Thank you so much for sharing!
(3/23/2015 9:31:49 PM)
Thank you
We will not be bullied is right. Thanks for speaking the truth in support of all agunos
(3/23/2015 9:32:18 PM)
Words of truth...
Thank you Yehudis for bringing out the truth and standing up for all the Agunahs out there. This article came just in time. The previous article was beyond shameful. Going through a divorce now that article hit me hard. No one should judge what other go through since no one really knows. Is never excusable for a man to disrespect his wife. A man has the Halachic and moral obligation to be there for her and respect her. Least we can do is be there for the other agunahs when they are alone and show support. Way to go Yehudis for this article and thank you COL for posting this.
(3/23/2015 9:32:25 PM)
thanks for posting
glad to see something true and honest. People need to realize the problem for us to fix it.
(3/23/2015 9:34:10 PM)
So proud of you Yehudis
Finally COLLIVE has published something decent after the other two PATHETIC articles.
I was in an abusive, codependent for 3 years. BH, I didn't have children w/ him & was able to start over again. But the scars were there & took a long time to heal.
I hate when people have opinions about things they know nothing about. I don't wish bad on anyone. If any of the people who were anti the protest had experienced or knew someone that experienced domestic abuse, they would be singing a different song. Abuse victims are so silenced by their abusers, ostracized from family & friends, & made to feel worthless. They don't start speaking & sharing until they feel safe again. And let me tell you, that can take a long time. The effects of the abuse linger for years.
So don't silence the marchers, because they are the voices of these fearful women.
(3/23/2015 9:35:59 PM)
Ofra Baum
How proud I am to stand with people (women) who lift their heads high in the face of terror and abuse.
(3/23/2015 9:36:32 PM)
Thank you for sharing!! Hope this article helps others in need..
(3/23/2015 9:38:35 PM)
Your bravery is awesome !!!
Thank You !!!
And for those still skeptic - consider a scenario where that young woman may have possibly not been strong enough and actually went back for "shalom Bayis", cooked that supper and had more babies, only to have to go through this process again years later...
(3/23/2015 9:38:37 PM)
Consistent clear voice
I have to say Yehudis I have been following your words the past two months and I appreciate your consistency and non negative stance on things. More a no nonsense policy and you dont let your emotions get a hold of you. I know you don't know all the facts and hear mostly one side of the story but I see you are not stupid and see through some of lies. I wish you much hatzlocha in your new life. Thank you for a beautiful article. I think it is important for people to learn what abuse really means.
(3/23/2015 9:39:21 PM)
Freda Werdiger Rothschild
Thank-you, Yehudis, you brave woman.
(3/23/2015 9:39:50 PM)
Thank you
This is honest, raw and beautiful. Men who use Halacha as a weapon are evil. Thank you for being a comfort to all the existing agunaha out there.
(3/23/2015 9:40:02 PM)
You are a brave hero, and role model !!!
Hopefully this will inspire others to speak up
Wishing all those chained a speedy redemption
(3/23/2015 9:41:46 PM)
Thank you!
Thank you, thank you, thank you for posting.
(3/23/2015 9:43:38 PM)
Beautifully written
Thank you for writing such a poignant piece. As a woman who recently recieved a Get, I also had no idea when/if it was going to happen. It is a very vulnerable and scary experience. But a person shouldn't have to be in our shoes to understand how awful waiting for a Get is. Every man/woman should feel for chained women as if she is their sister.
(3/23/2015 9:43:48 PM)
Brave woman
You expressed yourself with sincerity and dignity.
May you be blessed by Hashem for being a support to those forgotten!
(3/23/2015 9:44:13 PM)
I applaud you.
Cheers to being sincere and truthful. May we hear of only good things.
(3/23/2015 9:48:34 PM)
Well said!
giving voice and perspective to a real issue in our community
(3/23/2015 9:48:51 PM)
So powerful
I can feel the winds of change beginning to blow through Crown Heights. Hopefully soon it will be powerful enough to break the chains that are strangling so many amazing women.
(3/23/2015 9:49:41 PM)
Thank you
Such raw honesty...we live in 2015- zero tolerance for abuse of any kind!!!
(3/23/2015 9:56:18 PM)
What a breath of fresh air! Wishing you only happiness and Mazal!
(3/23/2015 9:56:35 PM)
thank you!!
Thank you for saying this!!! I hope some ppl begin to understand. ..
(3/23/2015 9:59:00 PM)
Sending hugs to #30
Thank you for adding to the beauty of truth spoken from the heart.
(3/23/2015 10:10:17 PM)
Powerful, incredible article. Thanks for sharing your experience. An agunah I know described her three years of waiting for her gett like living in a hamster wheel. She had to keep going through life but with no idea of a way out she felt like she was just running in hopeless circles.
Please Hashem, redeem all the women and men who are waiting to be freed. Immediately.
(3/23/2015 10:13:38 PM)
Kol hakavod to you!
Kudos to you Yehudis for speaking your heart and for not hiding behind an anonymous post. Keep strong.

Thank you collive for publishing a well written and finally sensible article on the issue

(3/23/2015 10:14:01 PM)
beautifully expressed
Respectfully, honestly. In awe of your journey, your strength, your truth. Keep speaking, keep writing.

Chana Lew
(3/23/2015 10:18:52 PM)
thank you
Well said and beautifully written.
(3/23/2015 10:24:08 PM)
in all honesty why do you think Aliza does not take your plight seriously? where inthe article does she come across uncompassionate. Personally, i know Aliza and she had a difficult life herself and has many challenges today as well. all the bashing from the comentators / well that is not coming from a very good heart as well. i see it that she is just trying to help ease your pain by refocusing your plight that Hashem is running the world and not chas vsholom that you shouldnt do anything you can to get that get. she is also saying that all the attention this gets puts the man in a position to use this as a weapon.
(3/23/2015 10:26:20 PM)
Yasher koach, Yehudis! Thank you for having the courage to post your story, particularly in light of the ignorant and hateful piece that was published earlier.
(3/23/2015 10:29:43 PM)
Finally,some common sense
Shame on those who make life even more difficult for agunahs.
(3/23/2015 10:32:27 PM)
Secular Divorces Can Last Years
I don't understand why Jewish women want to cut and run so badly. Due process takes time. You're divorce last 11 months? Some custody battles last for years.

This is why you should make good decisions.
(3/23/2015 10:33:02 PM)
Wow 55
Proving exactly why we need these issue corrected. Even if a custody case for some ridiculous reason needs to last for years... What does that have to do with a Gett? Are you saying a Gett should be withheld till custody is decided ? So use it as a tool? A bargaining chip? Blackmail?
(3/23/2015 10:41:27 PM)
To 55: Apples and Oranges
Secular divorces on average least about a year. Custody battles can and do take places after the divorce. However, even in that similar time frame there is no possibility in secular law a divorce doesn't happen. Whereas with Yehudis she did not know if she would receive the get.

The truth is halacha is actually more quick about divorce than secular courts. For example if a couple mutually agrees they want a divorce (in such a case halacha says for any reasons) it can be done ASAP, where their civil divorce proceedings will take much longer.
(3/23/2015 10:45:19 PM)
thank you!!
Thank you for writing this! I don't understand how people are blaming the victim.. Your voice needed to be heard!
My mother was chained for 7 years, after enduring much abuse while married.. It was one of the hardest and most stressful times in our life. Waiting, and not knowing. For almost a decade. I'm so confused as to why people are justifying gett refusal.

For the bottom of our families heart, thank you.
(3/23/2015 10:46:59 PM)
Thank you
Thank you for speaking up!
(3/23/2015 10:52:23 PM)
Thank you
I felt the same as you, being told I would never get my GET, and little and very expensive support from Rabbi's.

Thanks for describing our experience, so others can understand…and we are the lucky ones…I got my Get BH
(3/23/2015 11:05:49 PM)
I feel you
I have been in an abusive relationship as well. T''G I have been able to get a Get pretty soon, but I was manipulated and chained in the marriage for 9 years until I finally had the courage to leave and build my life back up for myself and my children.

For the people who don't get it, Thank G-d that you haven't been through it enough to understand. At the same time, please make the effort to open your mind and eyes to situations that others find themselves in. It is part of your world, part of your community and it may, G-d forbid, hit closer to home one day. Educate yourself and your children now so you can prevent and know how to deal with real issues when they come up.
(3/23/2015 11:08:33 PM)
Thanks Yehudis
ESPECIALLY (yep caps lock) for mentioning how the rabbonim were complicit -- they were for me as well. Some of the most important (well, "self-important) names in Crown Heights laughed in my face and told me to go back to my abuser. I told them I was getting out and I did, thanks to the compassion and understanding of a (non-Lubavitch) rov in another community who couldn't care less what my (BH!) ex's last name was (and believe me, outside Lubavitch NO ONE cares who your zaidy was).
(3/23/2015 11:09:17 PM)
Thank you!
This is what needs to be heard!
(3/23/2015 11:11:15 PM)
Truth shines
Thank you and brave of you for sharing your name .
(3/23/2015 11:11:20 PM)
Thank you!
Thank you for saying your story. People should not think that being an agunah is not a big of a deal and take it lightly. This is a serious issue in our communities and it needs to be brought out.
(3/23/2015 11:11:55 PM)
I'm impressed by her article.
I'm a man and I think there is a big problem with women being under the control and mercy of men.
In today's day and age,
I don't believe, according to Halacha, any women should have her life frozen still because of a man.
I have daughters and will teach them that men are no better or more deserving than women.
Halacha should free women, not make them prisoners of another human being.
(3/23/2015 11:13:18 PM)
domestic abuse
domestic abuse is an experience that only few can describe, B"H . very difficult to understand what it means to be in captivity in your own home. It is a crime to send a women back for sholom bais in this situation. Different than all Sholom Bais issues , there are no two sides in abuse. the difficulties women are describing in obtaining a get are just one more reason women stay in abusive relationship, their self esteem is already at the lowest, who has strenght to fight like a lion for a right they deserve.
(3/23/2015 11:14:34 PM)
People like You
are what make me remain confident in the future of our people. Articles like the previous posted make me second guess my decision to enter this world - thank god the community has women with heads on straight and strong who know how to constantly question, and stand up for what's right. Yasher koach to Yehudis for sharing her personal nightmare to stand up for what's right and show true ahavas yisroel
(3/23/2015 11:15:16 PM)
Thank you!
Thank you for saying your story. People should not think that being an agunah is not a big of a deal and take it lightly. This is a serious issue in our communities and it needs to be brought out.
(3/23/2015 11:15:47 PM)
to 55
while secular divorces can last years, a secular divorce proceeding can be bifurcated and the divorce status entered after 6 months and 1 day (in California anyway) so that the parties can remarry if they choose. This can be done at the election of either party without the other party's agreement. So, please know what you are talking about before you post. Thank you!
(3/23/2015 11:25:10 PM)
Thank you
Thank you Yehudis for speaking up and sharing your experience which reflects the reality of so many women who have to wait for their get indeterminably, vulnerable to the whims of their husband and the opinions of the rabonim in charge. The system as is unfortunately allows personal abuse to thrive through the systemic abuse of Halacha. EVERYONE will benefit from the positive change that you are working for- families, children, husbands and wives.
(3/23/2015 11:40:45 PM)
How would you advise singles boys/girls to watch out for what went wrong and how was it so clear form the start that it was bad?

What do you mean he was torturous...

please teach the young men out there how they should treat there wife?

Thank you

Not Judging in any way just want to learn for us...
Please be abit more informative for the help of the public.
(3/23/2015 11:46:06 PM)
thank you!
Thank you for writing this. It is clear that the author of the other article has no clue what a marriage is if she thinks that woman who is stuck in a marriage is not chained bc she can go get a job...
(3/23/2015 11:52:05 PM)
My hero!
Yasher koiach Yehudis. May Hashem give you the strength to fight the good fight always
(3/23/2015 11:54:31 PM)
thank you!
Finally a normal person talking!!!
(3/24/2015 12:00:57 AM)
Everyone gets it!!! Everyone takes it seriously and feels compassionate for anyone that is suffering, no one took it lightly!!! I don't see anywhere in the previous article that suffering was taken lightly!!! I don't know understand how so many of you did not read the previous article properly!!
(3/24/2015 12:02:40 AM)
Thank you
Thank you for having the courage to stand up for what is right. The previous article had no place on any website.
If a man refuses to give a get he is obviously controlling. I am thankful that BH I have a very healthy relationship with my spouse and that is why I will stand up for what is right, proper and just!
(3/24/2015 12:04:25 AM)
Class in session
Thank you Yehudis for the education. That is the only real way to fight this.
(3/24/2015 12:08:35 AM)
A big Yasher Koach
May we merot Moshiach already!
(3/24/2015 12:25:17 AM)
hashem yerachem
:Wow beautiful
I wonder how many woman are going to be onchain.
how many נשמות are not going to come to this world
cuz one story is going to destroy thousands of women's right to bring babies...
Not today ,but the effect of this March is behind local politics
nobody says that's no problem of aguna/_gerusha
but exactly because of this reason its very dangerous to generalize it.
let's be honest for a moment how many women mentally challenged....and play innocent.
how many women have this so called "women rights " problem ,and want to link it to the Torah...
I know a few in our neighborhood the court denied them to see their babies for one simple reason they are hazard to their own children!!

now .the point is .

Because of the vicious bitter and miserable few woman....
The oll festival is out of context and out of control...
I do not want my daughter to see thoes miserable people walking...

If god forbid anybody has problems I would advise them to go to a rov resolving the differences.
And definitely not to give them appetite destroy blessings of God.
If the energy of thoes women are protesting against God ,would be pro God I would be more proud of them..

And b"h I c
Thet the same people are pushing for "prenup"....
Say no more....
(3/24/2015 12:36:39 AM)
Baruch matir asurim
I'm so happy for this author that she got her get. We have to keep working so every agunah's story should end this way.
(3/24/2015 12:41:33 AM)
thank you
Reason, compassion, truth, principles.
You have it all. I am so glad you wrote this.
(3/24/2015 12:43:20 AM)
Thank you for sharing
You are a true heroine.Love your authenticity .You are brave and incredibly courageous to express this piece. Inspire on!
May you only know of peace and serenity.
Chanie Kozliner
(3/24/2015 12:43:44 AM)
There is always a choice
While many opt out, some stay married to an abusive spouse, like myself. Aliza's advice, while being interpreted by many as being callus, applies to whatever painful and challenging circumstances H' wants you to go through and the reason I know H' wants me to be with the man I am married to is because I am married to him. I live with a deep chronic pain from experiencing angry reprimands and blame instead of the love,connection, appreciation and respect I want. And it really hurts to have a family to run very much alone without access to family funds which he controls and calls all his. And he can't see or intuit or even listen to needs. This is what I have. I still struggle to accept it . I am human but I am also a Chosid and I learn Tanya and I want Moshiach to come so I have been working on myself and I have been choosing to reach that place of Ahavas Chinum, where I am out of judgment and into my own nobility and compassion for a very wounded Jewish man who needs my love and respect, my appreciation, my kindness-----unconditionally. I usually don't reach this because it is a very high level to love in the face of what he gives me but I do sometimes and then it is very amazing. I thank H' for this privilege. Its a daily battle but I can see my growth which began with healing my own self esteem, I learned that it is only abuse if it is on some level resonating with my own inner abuse( I believe I am small or unworthy and I beat myself up for my mistakes and failings) I think what Aliza was alluding to is to avoid the 'victim drama' , "poor me" ,no matter what your circumstances. There is always your choice and there is always a way. ( and plenty to be grateful for -even or especially the circumstance that is a hidden good. Thats what we learn in Chassidus. Isn't it?
(3/24/2015 12:48:17 AM)
Thank you!!!
Your so brave!! No one should suffer. Abuse needs to stop now!! When are we going to have real rabanim that are not afraid to say it like it is, to call a spade a spade. My sister suffered with an abusive husband for 50 years!!!!!
(3/24/2015 1:02:55 AM)
thank you COL!!!
Beautiful article!!!
(3/24/2015 1:04:42 AM)
Wow that must take pure courage to bear your heart. May hashem continuously giveryou and all others in such a situation, go forward with strength and fortitude.
(3/24/2015 1:11:28 AM)
I dont understand
The dangling keys in front of you- what does that translate into?

Can someone explain what goes on in those situations s without beating around the bush, please?
(3/24/2015 1:22:56 AM)
True definition of aguna
This writer does a good job of lumping every case together and has an emotional appeal to any type of woman who feels victimized for whatever reason .
However, the writer is very short on facts and manages to disparage various people in the process. I find this to be very unconvincing. This is not to say that there is no such thing as a real aguna who needs our compassion and help, and I disagree with the oped by aliza. However, not every person who jumps on the bandwagon of the agunos qualifies as one, thus my opposition to the phony march that was a coalition of those who want to undermine the torah, and others that were premised on hate and revenge.
Those people do a great disservice to the real agunos. Lets define what a real aguna is. A woman who called her husband to beis din and her husband consistently refuses to appear, and the beis din has issued a siruv against him, she qualifies as an aguna. Obviously, there are a few exceptions to that in cases where the husband does not trust the particular beis din and prefers a zablo. However if his refusal to appear is a blanket one, and the wife has obtained a siruv, that husband should be ostracized by the community. Or in a case where they have been to beis din to settle their issues, and beis din have ruled that the husband is obligated to divorce, his refusal would qualify the wife as an aguna.
However, all these disputes that are being fought on social media, while the wife is dragging her husband to court, denying him visitation rights, making up phony orders of protection, just to get him arrested for no reason, and many other vindictive measures, in those cases, the wife is not an aguna at all. I am not talking about a case where the husband is a dangerous person, and an order of protection is needed with a heter from a Rov. I am talking about those cases that are purely vindictive, and those women are NOT agunos. You cannot decide on a facebook page who is an aguno. It belongs in beis din. It is time for us to start acting rational, and supporting the true agunos, and not lumping the troublemakers with the real ones, because this only harms their cause. This is the objective truth.
(3/24/2015 1:33:03 AM)
In Torah:
A husband has a right to ensure fair custody and financial agreements as part and parcel with giving the get, however long it takes.

A marriage and a get is all that constitutes a bind or a separation in the eyes of Torah. There is no separating the bond without separating the bond, this includes children related bonds as well as financial ones.

Until such time as these matters are settled and agreed upon, no get must be given, for how can a marriage be dissolved without the Most Important issue (of children) being settled?!

That there are women who see this as something separate from the divorce (get) and second to their own "freedom" demonstrates where their head is at.

It is not a bargaining chip. On the contrary, a marriage is first and foremost for the purpose of bringing children in this world. So how can one conclude the marriage without concluding on the care for their children.

Decisions of custody and finances are not separate from the marriage dissolution, it is part and parcel with the marriage dissolution.

Those who see these issues as separate betray that they do not see what the marriage actually is. It is not a token of connection, it is the financial and child-bearing bond. It cannot be ended separate from the care of children and split of finances. These matters are more important than "personal freedom" (for either party), and have everything to do with the marriage and the dissolution thereof.

To fault a man for not dissolving the marriage without a clear agreement on these matters is separating the matter of children from the actual marriage, and setting it aside as if it is just a side token of their union, rather than the central feature of it.

Any woman who is more concerned with "being free" than she is with achieving a conclusion as to the care and custody of her children [rather than relegating it to being a necessary after-thought] shows a fault so fundamentally damaging in one's entire outlook on marriage and what it inherently is.

To echo the well known law: Bearing no children after ten years is itself grounds for divorce.

That the gvmt offers the option to extricate the matter of children from divorce and handle it after the fact as a side token is no basis for Jewish marriage to be addressed similarly. It is worth noting that this is anyway not the case across all states, but rather a new liberal fad (to separate the matter of children from the actual divorce).

After all is said and done, a women who publicly tarnishes the reputation of the father of her children who seeks to follow the way of Torah and settle all matters as part and parcel with a divorce is the one who is demonstrating abusive tendencies, disregard for Torah and for the welfare of their children. (And no, claiming that her freedom for whatever reasonable time it takes to settle the matters of the divorce is somehow more important than the most central matter the parents are responsible for, the welfare of their children, that one will seek to destroy the reputation of their children's father's blinded by this, is a sickness of selfishness in its own right.)

According to Torah one is required to even suffer a loss rather than tarnish the reputation of their fellow by speaking lashon hora. It is only by the authority of a Bes Din that an issue may become publicly relevant and one may be ostracized and publicly rebuked. Those who air their personal issues in the public and fuel the whirlwind of harmful gossip are a machla among us, and lead fellow Jews away from Torah and Emuna in Hashem.

May those who have turned sour and spoiled so much as to sideline their responsibilities to their children even in so far as to think of justifications for it that they say are for their children's benefit while revolving it around themselves, may they be speedily healed completely.

Remember that Hashem is the husband / groom and Binei (Kinesess) Yisroel is the wife / bride. And as we rule it here below (in our marriages) so too is it ruled above (in Our Marriage). Let us keep Him attentive to the fact that Our Marriage is not just bound by the Torah text, but that all we have provided through Him (our Goodness and Kindnesses that we have done) are not some irrelevant side-affect, but are the central feature of Our Bond with Him, that He may Keep us as His Woman, if only since we continue to Give, despite the bumps in Our Relationship, what is Most Central to it, the Progeny thereof, our Goodness and Kindnesses.

May we See Now Our Marriage come to its Complete Fruition with the Revelation of Moshiach, here.

BiVrochoh libesuros Tovos biChol ho'omur.
(3/24/2015 1:42:16 AM)
Enough about the problems. Whats the solution. We should only hear solutions coming from both sides. Both sides must answer these two questions.
1. If a Jewish woman wants a divorce and a husband won't give one, what can and should be done. Who has the power to make that decision? And can they be persuaded by public opinion.

2. Men are not always in the wrong. What can be done if a woman abuses the system. What does that mean? What are the parameters that both sides can agree on to determine that that is happening?

Lets start shifting the discussion toward solutions both sides can agree on rather than just attacking each other.
(3/24/2015 1:50:36 AM)
Not cool
Disparaging her well thought out op-ed is not right. The tactics that the get activists advocate don't work. And yes, gittin are by definition a sefer krisus and need to come after a settlement. Batei Din are the best places to negotiate such settlements and should be used by both parties (this is also clear halacha).
Aliza clearly does not want to see anyone suffer, and she did not attack you, like you did to her for speaking her opinion. She seems to recognize that your cookie cutter approach prevents even measured and defined attempts at reconciliation and does nothing to combat parental alienation (which is the true reason behind many standstills of gittin).
(3/24/2015 3:06:54 AM)
i would also like to tell people that it's not just the spouse who is chained but the whole family. As a daughter of a mother who went ten years without a gett, we lived through the whole story with her as much as she tried to shield us - the whole family having to move out of our family home because my father refused to, the thousands and thousands of dollars of legal and beis din fees, financial extortion, deaf community leaders and a completely powerless/unwilling beis din. We were all chained.
(3/24/2015 4:03:38 AM)
thank you for posting
A truly heartfelt oped.
(3/24/2015 7:21:08 AM)
99% positive comments. Very impressive. Thank you collive for posting an op-ed that make sense. Thank you commenters for encouraging, and not trashing the author.
May we all have continued Ahavas Yisroel, and try to respect each other, even if we have different opinions. Hate, gets us no where. Thanks.
(3/24/2015 7:50:39 AM)
two sides
what about the woman who is emotionally blackmailing the guy? what about the woman who is so unreasonable and emotionally abusive that the only thing a guy has, to come out with any dignity or any kind of life, is that threat to keep her in line to JUST BE REASONABLE. I know the "majority" its the guy but that looses sight to the fact that it could and many times is the woman. I know of a case where the woman is really really a nut case and refuses to accept a gett and the guy is stuck. I know other cases as well. so let us not make a total "woman" thing there are many men who get the raw end of the deal. after all if it wasn't "one" that was the bad one. both wouldn't be in that position.
(3/24/2015 8:06:15 AM)
Withholding a get is unacceptable period !!!!
I have been blessed to be happily married , I have a husband who is a real mentsch and the nicest person. For a man to be abusive to his wife in any way is unacceptable, and there is no place in torah for such a thing, it's the opposite of what we stand for . My friend got married to an abusive guy, and for a year she kept quiet, but I sensed that something was off with her, after a year she told me she was getting divorced, but he wasn't going to let her go too easily, this was his last power trip over her. I was appalled to see how hard it was for her to get her gett, trying daily for a year, begging, and paying whatever money she could put together for her freedom. I was appalled at how the system works, and that the rabanomin allow this, this was a side to our world that was not pretty . I wouldn't wish this on anyone. It's very simple to me, a decent man grants a gett and doesn't withhold it. All I can say is there is only hashem in this world and he will take care of everything , but where we can help a Jew in need, we must or at least keep your ugly comments to yourself.
(3/24/2015 8:27:57 AM)
Thank you for giving a Voice to Truth
A voice to Humanity, Compassion, Dignity,
A voice to Kindness, Strength and Morality.
You are a brave woman Yehudis, lending your voice to the power of goodness. May Hashem shower abundant blessing upon your life and allow you to spread light wherever you tread.
(3/24/2015 8:34:30 AM)
And while the author is so graciously helping the women who need a GETT - Will she endlessly criticize the husband and the Beis Din and speak about the endless pain? Will she organize marches? Or will she contact people who are known to help with Gittin and then... will she encourage the women to have Emmunah? Will she encourage them to make the best use of their time and move forward in the meantime as a capable individual? Because once you have read my article (despite all your loving comments) you will know the right thing to do.

BTW - Thank you to "huh?"
(3/24/2015 8:49:38 AM)
Great response
And for being there for other women in your position. Kol haKovod to you.
(3/24/2015 8:59:40 AM)
I know that its not a sure thing, but it would help to educate our kids about mental health issues. some people have personality disorders which contribute to this, and then, yes, they are bullied, abused emotionally and/or physically, and withhold Get along with that. Do you and your family and loved ones know how to look for signs of someone with personality disorder? Its not so easy to detect. Our Jewish comunities need to educate us and our children about this. No person should suffer from being chained to such torture. It is time.
(3/24/2015 9:52:19 AM)
Current Aguna
Thank you, Yehudis for speaking up.
(3/24/2015 9:59:02 AM)
to 70
every state is different. in some states it can take over a year, by law. I think the commentators point was that , 11 months and a few thousand dollars is just called a divorce, not an agunah. It undermines real agunahs to call a woman in a messy divorce, an agunah. It doesnt mean her friends and family shouldn fight for her, but its just not an agunah.
(3/24/2015 9:59:59 AM)
Thank you!
Finally! Some words of truth from someone who has actually been in that situation! So proud of you and keep on being the strong wonderful woman you are!
(3/24/2015 10:01:07 AM)
to 84
your piece is so sad. Why do you think hashem wants you to stay married to him?? Yes, it was hasgacha protis that you married him in the first place. But You can absolutely chose, with hashem's blessing, to seek a divorce. Noone should stay in an abusive relationship. Hashem approves of divorce, He gave us the concept of a gett in the Torah, the blueprint of the world. Please speak to a train therapist as well as a SENSITIVE rav. Please! You DONT have to be in this relationship! You DO deserve a happy and fulfilling marriage!!
(3/24/2015 10:57:56 AM)
my 2 cents
I appreciate the perspective of the author. However, it's very generalized. There are men who abuse the get and use it as leverage, vindictive retribution, blackmail or even extortion. That is criminal and there is a special place in gihenom for those people.

However, there are women who use there children or image in the same manner. They'll falsely have their husband arrested (of course I'm not addressing the legit charges that tragically is sometimes necessary to file due to them committing horrible things) claiming either assault or abuse on them or their children that never happened, in order to exercise leverage (especially vis a vis his right to be a parent with reasonable access to his children's lives as is appropriate in almost all cases, save for the rare hyperabusive dad), vindictive retribution, blackmail or even extortion of their husbands. There is a special place in gihenom for those women as well. In those cases it's not reasonable for the husband to repay demonic behavior with smooth delivery of a get.

So in essence when a woman claims victomhood, one must afford them all the empathy, dignity and compassion but not get involved unless you know both sides.

Lastly, my thought and prayers are with the true agunos (what true percentage is I have no idea) who have demonic husbands that deserve the cattle prods and an ultra warm share in the next world.
(3/24/2015 11:29:08 AM)
What about the men?
Not one comment about the men that are abused by their wives?
The women who will not take a GET… right men have the option of a hater Maoh Rabbonim… easy breezy… huh?
Abuse in any relationship especially marriage is a two way street!
Remember that
(3/24/2015 11:35:48 AM)
Define Agunah
I think the word Agunah has been so watered down that it lost its meaning. I think today every woman who asks for a get and does not receive it that same day thinks she is an agunah. This is not the halachic case of agunah. A get is not finalized in one day just as a legal divorce is not finalized in one day. There is a process to everything. Someone who is refused a get or someone who the husband went missing is a real agunah. This is not the same as someone who is in the divorce process and is working out the details of dividing property, money, custody etc. It is totally reasonable for these things to take some time until both parties agree. No one like to share these things that is understood but there needs to be open conversation between the two to make it work, not hostility and not refusal to work out details. This will only prolong the process and this is not grounds for calling yourself an agunah. May all the real agunahs be freed and may those in the get process find the strength to work together amicably and speed along the process.
(3/24/2015 11:45:31 AM)
TO #84
I read your comment from a very deep place bc that was me - choosing to stay in an abusive marriage for over 20 years with a houseful of kinderlach bc I thought it was "G-d's will" I would never tell you whether to go or to stay - that is your decision only. But I can tell you that the road you are choosing is exhausting & requires lots of emotional back-up from a KNOWLIGEABLE frum therapist who totally understands abuse and your "deep chronic pain." There are sliding scale organizations in Brooklyn who can help you. Maybe someone reading this will even write the name of a good therapist / clinic.
(3/24/2015 12:56:13 PM)
To #90 Really??? What is your source??
A husband has a right to ensure fair custody and financial agreements as part and parcel with giving the get, however long it takes.

A marriage and a get is all that constitutes a bind or a separation in the eyes of Torah. There is no separating the bond without separating the bond, this includes children related bonds as well as financial ones.

Until such time as these matters are settled and agreed upon, no get must be given, for how can a marriage be dissolved without the Most Important issue (of children) being settled?

Really?? What is your Source??

Where exactly does it say that a husband has these rights??
(3/24/2015 1:13:44 PM)
Thank you!
Finally an article which accurately depicts the plight of woman waiting for her gett, because it is written by someone who actually went through it!!! You are helping agunos come forward. You are paving the way for women to talk about their own personal experiences. Kol hakovod to you.
(3/24/2015 1:26:15 PM)
The Get and custody are two separate issues. Custody evaluations need to be handled by professional phycologists, not Rabbis. In New York, there has been a law passed that a Get must be part of the dissolution process. By marrying civilly, it should help ensure a woman receiving her Get, or there will be legal consequences.
(3/24/2015 1:59:04 PM)
למה אתם קוראים לזה "עגונה"
אולי מישהי מהאמריקאים יוכל להסביר לי למה אתם קוראים לזה "עגונה"?עגונה זה אישה שלא יודעים איפה בעלה נמצא או שאין עדים שהוא מת.
מה הקשר לפה?
(3/24/2015 2:23:33 PM)
sad experience
Really wonder what Aliza 's credentials are. I have 2 close family members who were getless for many years. Both were no fault of their own. Both divorces were 100% the other side, from an unbiased opinion, and first hand knowledge of the situations. There were no custody issues. One got involved with another woman and he still refused to grant a get! It's more about ego and control than anything else. I don't know about all situations,but these men were not "healthy". You couldn't talk to them and get them to think rationally like a normal person.
(3/24/2015 2:50:56 PM)
To #108
The quality of human life is at play here. Forget the semantics and grammar of literal translations. If Agunah means "chained" then yes, any woman trapped in a marriage is an agunah. Forget the technicalities. That has no place here.
(3/24/2015 3:38:22 PM)
To Commentator #90
You are wrong. A gett should never be used to entrap someone into custodial, monetary, or any other agreement. While there are two sides to every divorce - there is only ONE side to a gett - if someone wants a GETT (male or female) give it (and for a woman - accept it). JUST AS YOU CANNOT KIDNAP A PERSON TO GIVE IN TO YOUR DEMANDS you cannot rightfully hold them hostage in Beis Din. USE THE CIVIL COURTS TO HAMMER OUT CUSTODY AND FINANCE arrangements.
(3/24/2015 3:42:59 PM)
Ahavas Yisrael?!
I'm laughing at how yehudis is displaying such belief in Ahavas yisrael, it's just terrible what husbands can do, etc, yet with her first sentence, she degrades Aliza, a fellow Jew! How can this be?
Aliza obviously didn't write what she wrote in order to make you upset yehudis, face that. So please respect her, and her words- she was obviously attempting to help, and ur opinion if she was right or not doesn't change that fact.
I can't imagine how she is feeling right now, especially reading such comments
(3/24/2015 3:48:50 PM)
To 115
She is not "chained" she is in a get process. Two adults need to get into the same room and talk in order to end the marriage properly. Quality of life does not have to change. continue to work on ending the marriage. Rome was not built in one day.
(3/24/2015 4:06:18 PM)
למספר #113
לאו דוקא מדובר על בטוי והגדרה ההלכתית של עגונה
אלא על ביטוי וגדרה המציאותית של עגונה והתוצאות של שניהם הם אותו דבר שניהם הם מעוגנים (לאיש מסויים) ואינם יכולים להתחתן
(3/24/2015 4:09:53 PM)
the truth!
Thank you Yehudi's for being so brave and saying the truth!
From an #ums admirer
(3/24/2015 4:10:24 PM)
To #118
She is chained!!
Obviously the negotiations arrived at a dead end.
What happens if he wants his way or no "Get"
She is chained my friend, lets say it how it is!
No one is speaking about a case where to healthy adults are working their business out.
(3/24/2015 4:46:47 PM)
To 118
You said: "Quality of life does not have to change. continue to work on ending the marriage".

That is assuming the marriage was healthy and ended on mutual terms.In most cases that is NOT the scenario. Very few frum women would leave a marriage unless the circumstances really called for it. In a situation where the other spouse is an abuser or addict, there is often no quality of life to begin with. So in addition to leaving, the healthy spouse must rebuild from scratch,
(3/24/2015 5:34:21 PM)
To #110
You can start by reading #92.

It looks like you are confusing secular divorce law with contractual law in Torah.

A get is the conclusion of all their affairs.

According to Torah technically any stipulations as to what the woman may receive with regard to custody or finances must be made before or at the time of signing of the get or she has no claim to anything and everything defaults to the husband (besides for what is stipulated in the kesuba, and custody of children under 8 years old which goes to the mother).

You're in no place to pose what should be an inquisitive inquiry in the form of a challenge as you have. You only show that you know next to nothing on the subject of contractual law in Torah, and no more than that as to contractual law relating to a get.

Like The Rebbe said (paraphrasing): Leave these subjects to the experts (Rabbonim), rather than every ignoramus thinking they know the intricacies of Torah contractual law, nevermind gittin.

Good day
(3/24/2015 5:56:48 PM)
Zero tolerance for abuse of any sort! Thank you for this article!
(3/24/2015 6:49:02 PM)
at last some sense!
Thank you for your brave words!
(3/24/2015 7:49:53 PM)
Get can take a few hrs
It has nothing to do with any other issues such as custody etc. give the Get THAN work out your settlements without leverage.
(3/24/2015 9:05:13 PM)
To #126
I'll tell you what, when your spouse shows up one day and says that they want a divorce, you will run, not walk, to the nearest Rav, and have him arrange and draft a Get IMMEDIATELY.

That's right. Don't try to save the marriage at all. Your spouse asked for a Get, give it IMMEDIATELY!

(3/24/2015 10:39:41 PM)
to #84
It sounds like you sort of convinced yourself of your current position to accept your lot as Aliza suggested in her op-ed. If you can indeed surrender to this lot and be able to live your life, then fine. If not, then you should seek help. Your husband may not be a bad man. With proper counseling and guidance from a Rav and/or Therapist he will listen and be a better husband/father.
(3/25/2015 12:24:01 AM)
not an agunah, not a get refuser
Although I have sympathy for the pain of the author of this article, she was not an agunah. It is normal for rabonim to delay presiding over a get in the hope that the couple will reconcile, and it is irresponsible for rabonim to agree immediately to do so. Moreover, the husband in this story did not disobey a rav's requirement to give a get, so he can't be called a get refuser, and the author cannot be considered an agunah. This is not to detract from the pain she went through, and may she have only joy and nachas in all areas for the rest of her life
(3/25/2015 1:18:37 AM)
Work it out
People who keep saying the rabbonim are right to tell the couple to work it out - of course people want to work it out! But when there is no other option, the rabbonim must recognize that and not send women back to abusive spouses! The step of actually going to the BD is not taken lightly and the rabbonim must learn to recognize and acknowledge domestic abuse, severe addictions and more.
(3/25/2015 8:21:39 AM)
Dear #84...What do Children Leaarn?
I was so pained to read your post. No one deserves to live in such distress. My primary concern is this....what does your acceptance of such a relationship say to your children? Children learn how to behave in a marriage based upon the dynamics of their own family. Are your sons learning that abuse is the norm and that is what they must do when married? Are your daughters learning that they must be stoic and unconditionally accept abuse? Are the children learning that this is their role in life?
For the sake of your children...stand up to your abuser. Teach your children that there are alternatives; that marriage and family should be a beautiful thing. Please, give your children and yourself the opportunity for a beautiful, happy, love filled life.
(3/25/2015 11:14:59 AM)
any of abuse is should never be tolerated
My siblings ex-husband put her and our family through hell. Talk about misguided rabbi's - He punched her in the stomach while she was pregnant and broke her toes and the Rabbi's looked the other way and made excuses for him and told her to go back to him. He was personable and well liked on the outside and a monster at home. People came up to us and repeatedly told us what a wonderful person he was, they stopped when we started telling them that they should benched with a son in law just like him. My favorite was when a " rebbitzin ", on hearing that he had punched her while pregnant - replied- there are two sides to every story. I told her she was wrong. There is only one side. if you use abuse . Its just plain wrong.
People use your heads. Someone's hitting you - get out as fast as you can - it doesn't get better .
(3/26/2015 4:27:35 PM)
To 132
Yes, agreed! One hit is one too many! Get hit? Get out!!!! Fast!!!!
(3/29/2015 11:49:54 PM)
Great article
Yasher koach! Wow yehudis I never knew you went through this. Great article. Keep up your fight for other women. !!
(3/23/2017 5:22:04 PM)
to #84
May Hashem give you the strength to leave the abusive marriage you are in. We all know it can be hard for women to leave abusive relationships and it s very sad that you are in that position. Hashem doesn't keep you in that situation, you are keeping yourself in it.
(3/25/2017 10:28:39 PM)
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