By Larry Gordon
As many of our readers know we have a feature story on Jewish divorce in this week’s 5 Towns Jewish Times (5TJT.COM) that features comments by Rabbi Mendel Epstein, a veteran of Orthodox Jewish divorce ward for decades. Divorce is usually complex and very often ugly too. It has an unfortunate tendency to bring out the worst in people. Rabbi Epstein is and has always been the kind of guy that knows his way around the maze of divorce law as it interfaces with halacha or Jewish law. Many will say that he is one of the foremost experts on the matter.
But now he stands accused of being involved in an even uglier side of divorce than the average mind can even imagine. He is being accused along with several cohorts of getting involved in extorting money from women in order to convince recalcitrant husbands to give their wives a Jewish divorce. And he is being accused of indulging sometimes in involuntarily restraining or kidnapping these men and using “tough guys” to convince the men that the healthiest thing they can do is offer their unhappy wives a Get.
The crisis surrounding the abuses of Jewish divorce can make anyone’s head spin. For many Rabbi Epstein provided daylight and relief. For other the experience was the exact opposite. The charges are serious but the good news is that he will have the opportunity in due time to present his side of the story and hopefully will be exonerated. It’s a common practice for prosecutors to seriously overstate charges against a target in any investigation in the hope that end of the day that something that they have spent millions of dollars of tax payer money ultimately sticks to the accused.
I’m not saying that he is innocent or that he is guilty. I am saying that like any other person in this position we have to wait for his case to be presented and for him to have his day in court.