Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Jeremy Stern - I quit my shul when the rabbi came out against prenuptial agreements

Two weeks ago, I rescinded my shul membership. The rabbi had made a public statement against the use of halachic prenuptial agreements. For me, he crossed a red line. I cannot identify with an institution whose religious leader opposes rectifying one of the worst desecrations of G-d’s name that currently plagues the Orthodox community. 

Get recalcitrance is not only a violation of Jewish law, but a form of domestic abuse in and of itself. Domestic abuse is not just about black-and-blue marks, but about a repeated assertion of power and control from one spouse over the other. That is precisely what goes on when an estranged husband vindictively and sadistically refuses to issue a get long after the marriage has proven to be irreconcilable. 

We cannot stand idly by while such abuse is perpetrated in our midst, and we cannot simply point fingers at others — rabbis in particular — to “fix” the problem. Simple solutions are rarely the cures for complex problems, and the agunah crisis is no exception. However, while a comprehensive solution to the agunah crisis may be beyond our grasp, there is one solution which has been extremely effective in preventing this problem going forward, and it is in our hands to implement: the halachic prenuptial agreement.

At the end of the day, we choose our rabbis, our rabbis don’t choose us. We hire our shul rabbis. We are the ones who vote them in and sign their contracts. It is up to us to make this a red-line issue. We must hire rabbis who will not only encourage the use of halachic prenups throughout the community, but insist upon their use whenever they officiate. [...]

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