• Hebrew

The Second Agunah Summit: State Solutions vs. Non-State Solutions

The Jeanne & Maurice Benin Real Estate Law Building (306), Hall 200, 2nd Floor

A joint initiative of IDI, the Bar-Ilan University Faculty of Law, the Tikvah Center for Law & Jewish Civilization, and JOFA.

In 2012, at the initiative of the Tikvah Center for Law & Jewish Civilization and the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance (JOFA), the First Agunah Summit convened in New York, under the leadership of Ms. Blu Greenberg, JOFA President Judy Heicklen, Prof. Moshe Halbertal and Prof. Joseph Weiler. Attended by representatives of women's organizations and human rights organizations, academics, intellectuals, rabbis, and practitioners in the field of agunot, the Agunah Summit focused on possible halakhic tools for solving the problem of agunot and mesoravot get. The discussions at its sessions revealed the severity of the problem and explored the feasibility of various halakhic and legal solutions.

In 2014, the Second Agunah Summit took place in Israel and involved two additional partners—the Israel Democracy Institute and the Bar-Ilan University Faculty of Law. This conference focused on the institutional aspect of the problem of agunot and mesoravot get, and more specifically on the responsibility of the state—as compared to other contractual, communal, intra-religious, and international bodies—for creating the problem and for finding solutions. The Summit explored both the current situation in Israel, where religious marriage and divorce is currently the only official track recognized by law, and the fundamental question of the state's responsibility for distress related to religious divorce in situations in which the state itself provides other options for civil marriage and divorce.

  • Ms. Blu Greenberg
  • Prof. Moshe Halbertal
  • Prof. Shahar Lifshitz
  • Prof. Yedidia Z. Stern
  • Prof. Joseph Weiler
  • Prof. Yaffa Zilbershats

9:00–9:30 am
Registration and Reception

9:30–9:35 am

  • Prof. Daniel Hershkowitz, President, Bar-Ilan University


9:35–10:45 am: Session 1

Solutions to the Plight of Mesoravot Get: A Road Map

Chair: MK Dr. Aliza Lavie, Chair, Knesset Committee for Promotion of the Status of Women and Gender Equality

  • Prof. Joseph Weiler, President of the European University Institute in Florence; Tikvah Center, New York University
    A Summary of the Previous Summit
  • Prof. Shahar Lifshitz, Dean, Faculty of Law, Bar-Ilan University; Co-Director of the Human Rights and Judaism Project, Israel Democracy Institute
    The Institutional Aspect: State Solutions and Non-State Solutions to the Plight of Mesoravot Get

10:45–11:00 am: Coffee Break

11:00 am–1:30 pm: Session 2

The State's Role in Finding a Solution to the Plight of Mesoravot Get

Chair: Prof. Yaffa Zilbershats, Deputy President, Bar-Ilan University

  • Prof. Berachyahu Lifshitz, Faculty of Law, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
    Expropriation of Betrothal Money by the State
  • Dayan Rabbi Eliyahu Heishrik, The Regional Rabbinical Court of Tel Aviv
    The Role of Rabbinical Courts in Addressing the Plight of Mesoravot Get
  • Attorney Batya Kahana-Dror, Executive Director, Mavoi Satum
    The Role of the Civil State

1:30–2:15 pm

Lunchtime Lecture

  • Attorney Atara Kenigsberg, Executive Director, The Rackman Center for the Advancement of the Status of Women, Faculty of Law, Bar-Ilan University
    A View from the Field: The Rackman Center's Efforts on Behalf of Mesoravot Get

2:15–4:00 pm: Session 3

Non-State Solutions

Chair: Dr. Karin Carmit Yefet, Faculty of Law, University of Haifa

  • Prof. Amihai Radzyner, Faculty of Law, Bar-Ilan University
    State-Rabbinical Jurisdiction vs. Private Jurisdiction – Advantages and Disadvantages
  • Dr. Rachel Levmore, Coordinator of the Agunah and Get-Refusal Prevention Project of the International Young Israel Movement in Israel and the Jewish Agency; Member of the Israel State Commission for the Appointment of Rabbinical Court Judges; Rabbinical Court Advocate
    Educating the Public to Sign Prenuptial Agreements
  • Ms. Ayelet Wieder Cohen, Board Member, Kolech, The Religious Women's Forum
    The Role of Women's Organizations in Resolving the Divorce Crisis : A Halakhic and Communal Perspective
  • Rabbi David Bigman, Head of Yeshivat Ma'ale Gilboa
    The Establishment of an International Rabbinical Court for Assessing Cases That May Not Require a Get

4:00–4:15 pm: Coffee Break

4:15–6:30 pm: Session 4

Panel Discussion: Private or State?

Feldman Congress Building (301) Senate Hall, Floor 2

Moderator: Prof. Joseph Weiler

  • MK Rabbi Eli Ben-Dahan, Deputy Minister for Religious Affairs
  • Prof. Pinhas Shifman, Head of the Family Law Division at the Academic Center for Law and Business in Ramat Gan
  • Prof. Yedidia Z. Stern, Vice President of Research, The Israel Democracy Institute; Faculty of Law, Bar-Ilan University
  • Prof. Ruth Halperin-Kaddari, Executive Director of the Rackman Center for the Advancement of the Status of Women, Faculty of Law, Bar-Ilan University; Member of the UN Experts Committee on Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)
  • Attorney Robyn Shames, Executive Director of ICAR – The International Coalition for Agunah Rights

6:30–7:15 pm

Closing Remarks: Looking Towards the Future

  • Prof. Moshe Halbertal, NYU School of Law
  • Ms. Blu Greenberg, Founding President of JOFA: The Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance

7:30 pm

Dinner (By Invitation Only)

Weisfeld Hall, Feldman Building (301), Ground Floor

  • Introductory Remarks: Dr. Arye Carmon, President, The Israel Democracy Institute
  • Guest Speaker: Education Minister Rabbi Shai Piron

For a summary of some of the possible solutions that were discussed at the conference, see "Who is Responsible for Finding a Solution to the Plight of Mesoravot Get?," an op-ed by Prof. Shahar Lifshitz that was published on the Ynet website on March 5, 2014.