Suri Stern –
What do I know about this topic? I started my legal career volunteering for COLPA, the National Jewish Commission on Law and Public Affairs, the organization that drafted New York’s Kosher and Get laws. Every week, I took heart wrenching phone calls from women whose husband chained them to a bad man/bad marriage.
That was 25 years ago. Sadly and maddingly, nothing has changed. How to solve a centuries old dilemma of men refusing to give their wives Jewish divorces. This week TheFiveTowns.com published an article asking congregants to appreciate their Rabbis and all they do for us. This is true, and they are certainly scholars as well. BUT They are not leaders. Leaders find solutions to problems. Leaders unite in an effort. I dont know of a concerted effort to place men who refuse to give their wives a Get in cherem, prohibiting them from davening and participating in shul life. When I tried having the Rabbis in our community agree to unite to form a community fund to help those in need of yeshiva tuition, the Rabbis looked me in th eyes and said that they could not uniformly agree with the other Rabbis, even the other Orthodox Rabbis, even on an uncontroversial, much needed community fund.
The Rabbis of the sting found a solution. They dared to stand up to grotesque and appalling men who flaunt and desecrate Jewish concepts. Our Bais Dins in New York are corrupt, inept and impotent. There is no uniform body to oversee them, no uniform body to ensure that the Dayanim are properly well versed in Jewish and secular laws, it is wrought with bribery and nepotism, and no one trusts the American Bais Din system. In my opinion, the singular wrong the Rabbis did was take money. Did they use excessive force? Nothing is excessive for these vile men who chain their wives bragging to all who will listen that they will do so until she is a spinster and no longer can have kids and be attractive to others. They are loathsome vermin who abuse the system bringing shame to the system and to the very meaning and core of Judaism. They deserved the treatment at the hands of these Rabbis.
The only alternative is to unite Rabbis in the purpose. That has not happened, and in the foreseeable future, probably will not happen. I know that the Rabbis’ intent were not altruistic. The fact that they took money, large sums for this, undermines their motives. Yet, in truth, if the women were willing to pay such large amounts of money to the Rabbis think of the extortion amounts their husbands were asking for. Think about how desperate they were to free their bonds so they can resume family life in Judaism.
I hope the Rabbis form a defense fund, which can be supported by the community, because they deserve a standing ovation for taking a serious stand on this issue.
THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN OUR LEADERS WON’T LEAD.
Find me a better solution.