Israel Democracy Institute Scholar Responds to High Court Deliberations on the “Agunah of Safed”
‘We are talking about an absurd situation'
Dr. Shuki Friedman, Director of the Israel Democracy Institute’s Center for Nation, Religion and State, says, “The attempt to threaten a woman’s freedom after it was given to her three years ago by the local beit din in Safed is horrifying. The significance of annulling her divorce agreement is major and could likely lead to an unprecedented situation in which no divorce agreement, whether it was granted under regular or special circumstances, would be considered final – even if the woman remarried and had additional children with her new spouse.”
Friedman said there is no doubt that what stands behind the beit din’s willingness to accept a third-party appeal, and the intention of the Sephardi Chief Rabbi to allow these deliberations to move forward, is nothing less than delivering a message to rabbinical judges that they must not be courageous in their efforts to release chained women.
“This is an attempt to intimidate rabbinical judges,” said Friedman. “It insinuates to them that if they cross strict religious lines they will pay the price. The beit din and the Rabbinate should be supportive of agunot and not be a further jail for these chained women. They should look to solve problems, as opposed to creating additional suffering."
Friedman said the beit din is facing a day of reckoning. If it makes the decision to cancel the divorce in question, it will serve to intensify hostilities against the religious establishment in general.
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