by Shlomo Anapolle (’13)

This past Thursday, Rabbi Jeremy Stern from ORA, the Organization for the Resolution of Agunot, delivered a presentation to Seniors regarding a major issue facing our community, the issue of Agunot. There are two ways that a woman can become an Agunah. One is when her husband withholds a Get from her, and she is then not able to remarry. The more classical one, found in the Gemara, is when a man disappears and it is unclear whether or not he has died. For example, if a man traveled overseas by ship, fell overboard, and was not found after that. Because there is a degree of doubt  as to whether or not he survived, then his wife may not remarry because he may still be alive. Today, most of the Agunot cases fall under the first category. Rabbi Stern presented us with two current examples of this type of case: Steve Scher from Roanoke, Virginia and Aharon Friedman from Silver Spring, MD. Regarding both cases, we heard and saw conversations and demonstrations organized against these husbands in order to try and pressure them to give a Get. However, both have been still been withholding for close to 10 years now, as these issues are very hard to deal with, and require much pressure to make the husbands cave in. Rabbi Stern then provided a modern day solution: a halachic prenuptial agreement. He showed us two examples of these documents, which are legally binding in the secular court system as well. The document requires the husband to pay the wife $150 per day from the day they separate until he gives her the Get. Rabbi Stern told us that 100% of the couples that have signed this agreement and have needed a divorce have given the Get and not had to pay.

To quote Rabbi Stern, “The reason one would make this type of agreement is to show to his wife-to-be that because he loves her so much, he doesn’t want there to be the possibility of hurting her down the line in case of disagreements.” Therefore, Rabbi Stern encouraged all of us to spread the word about this prenuptial agreement and help and make it a standard in our communities.

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