Friday, October 30, 2015

An Agunah's Story: Adina Porat

As there are always 2 sides to a dispute, I welcome any comments by Eli Shur - including a guest post - that explain why he hasn't given his wife a Get after 8 years.

In Dayton, Ohio’s Jewish community of approximately 4,000, few beyond the dozen or so Orthodox families here are familiar with the word agunot, let alone its ramifications.

But the issue of agunot — the plight of women in the Orthodox world whose husbands refuse to provide them with a get, a religious bill of divorce — is now squarely focused on this Midwest community. The New York-based Organization for the Resolution of Agunot (ORA) will hold a rally on Sunday, November 8 near the home of Dovid Porat, known locally by the name Eli Shur.

Shur and his wife, Adina Porat, were married in Israel in 1990. According to ORA, in 2007, Shur left his wife and their five children; he moved to the United States a year later. Since then, he has refused to provide his wife with a get. According to halacha (Jewish law), a divorce isn’t final until a husband provides his wife with a get. Without one, an agunah is unable to remarry.

Despite ORA’s private attempts over several years to obtain a get from Shur, he has refused. On October 21, ORA opened the website to announce the rally, along with a video interview of Adina Porat that has gone viral.

ORA anticipates supporters from Orthodox communities in Cincinnati, Cleveland, and Columbus will converge on Kettering, a city just south of Dayton, at 11:30 a.m. on November 8 to publicly ostracize Shur, raise awareness about the case, and to pressure him to sign a get.

“In my life, I’m stuck in a prison,” Adina Porat says in ORA’s video. “I can’t move on, I can’t continue. The kids never had a chance to have a stepfather, a new family, and to continue on with their lives.” [...]

In 2010, Shur arrived in Dayton to serve as ritual director of Beth Jacob Congregation. He had presented himself as a single man with no children. Nearly six months later, volunteers with ORA showed up at one of Shur’s evening classes at the synagogue and urged him to sign a get for his wife. He refused. The congregation fired him when it learned he had falsified his identity.

Despite repeated attempts, Shur declined to be interviewed for this article.

In agunot cases, it’s not unusual for husbands to attempt to extort wives and their families for money or property in exchange for a get. In Adina’s video, she says Shur hasn’t asked for anything.

According to ORA, in 2009, the Israeli Rabbinate ruled that Shur must give his wife a get. [...]

“I also made attempts to reach out to him,” Klayman says. “He did return one of my emails. He had no real context. He said they ruined his life, but he won’t tell you what they did, why they did it, or what he wanted to do to try and resolve it. Just a lot of ranting and cursing me. I made other attempts to reach out to him. He never responded again.”

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