European rabbis have welcomed an Israeli decision to ban Jewish men who refuse to give their wives a religious divorce, and to detain them as they cross into Israel.
The reaction followed the passing of a new law by the Israeli Knesset to bar from entry men who refuse to grant a religious divorce – or ‘get’ – to their wives following a civil divorce, leaving them unable to marry again according to Jewish law.
In recent years, Europe’s top rabbis have taken up the case of the women, who are often referred to as “chained” (agunot), describing men’s repeated refusal to grant a ‘get’ as a form of “domestic violence”.
Now any man identified by a Diaspora Rabbinical court as a “recalcitrant husband” can be detained upon arrival in Israel, adding to current Israeli law that allows authorities to force recalcitrant husbands to comply with the decisions of Diaspora Rabbinical courts and attend divorce proceedings.
The rabbis and Israeli authorities hope that detainment on entering Israel will now act as a deterrent to these men.
Rabbi Pinchas Goldschmidt, president of the Conference of European Rabbis, whose organisation pushed for the law, said: “This is a huge step and we are incredibly proud that this idea has now been enshrined in law.”
He added: “It is my fervent prayer that the new law will pave the way to hope for women who seek to live their life free of the shackles of an unwanted and dysfunctional marriage. Get-refusal is a form of domestic violence and the global Jewish community must act to protect its women.”
Israel is the only country whose Rabbinical courts now have the power to pressure recalcitrant husbands, he said, adding that the law “will ensure that all men, regardless of citizenship, feel the force of disgust from the global Jewish community”.
Tweeting in French, the Chief Rabbi of France Haim Korsia said the law was “a great step forward for agunot women around the world, who have to deal with recalcitrant husbands”.
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